If you know of a young woman who is being courted by an enamored young man, you need to tell her that unless that young man is willing to give up everything in his life, all that he has, all that he is, and all his self-interest for her, then he is not worth having. “For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh.” (Eph. 5:31)
And then, after she wholeheartedly agrees with you, as I am quite sure she will, for she is young, and believes herself to be in love, you need to look at her and say, “And you have to do the same.” “Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.” (Eph. 5:22)
Now you understand why the majority of marriages do not last long today. The complete denial of self is expected by one of the parties, but rarely offered by the other. If you have spent any time in the Word of God, I am sure you can see where this short letter is headed, Christ died for you, have you died for Him?
“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.” (Romans 12:1) This is expected, as it should be in every marriage, but we are human, we love ourselves more than we love the Lord. Many of you perhaps will look at your life since you came to the Lord, since He called you, you will find that the majority of it has been spent on self, not self-denial, not self-sacrifice for the glory of God. This is the tune that works-based religions play, denying self not for Christ, but for acceptance by Him, contrition for the sake of staying in the good favor of the Lord.
If the man of the house is not in subjection to the Lord, the woman is still to submit to his authority, only in the Lord. We are to submit to the will of God, we are in the body, and a member of the body cannot function outside of that body. “But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God.” (1 Cor. 11:3) To deny this is to deny the Sovereignty of the Most High and does not fulfill the marriage obligation that we committed ourselves to.
You may look at it as it is recorded for us in the Book of Hosea, told to marry and pursue a prostitute. When we seek for our own pleasures and pursuits in a marriage, that marriage will find itself on rocky ground, to say the least. But, although we have been unfaithful, He remains faithful. “The LORD hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.” (Jer. 31:3)
The marriage relationship between a man and a woman is perhaps the closest approximation we have in the Word of God of our personal relationship with the Lord, and it is why Satan has always attacked it vehemently. We are all my friends, everyone of us in one way or another adulterous in the eyes of the Lord. Yet we are still loved. We are betrothed to One, “For thou shalt worship no other god: for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God.” (Exo. 34:14) As you should be over your wife or your husband.
“The wife hath not power of her own body, but the husband: and likewise also the husband hath not power of his own body, but the wife.” (1 Cor. 7:4)
Dying to self in this marriage relationship should be on your mind constantly, no one, whether it be mother or father, husband or wife, should take precedence over your love for the Lord. As I have read and repeated many times, the measure of our love for the Lord should be immeasurable. He gave everything He had for you, in love, in love we should be willing to give all we are to Him. When you instruct that young man or woman in these matters, watch their face as you speak to them those words mentioned at the beginning of this short letter, and you will know where their heart lies, in love, or in self. Then, look at your life in this area, and see where yours is.