Real Marriage: The Truth About Sex, Friendship, and Life Together by Mark & Grace Driscoll
As a leading voice of the next generation with growing impact around the world, Pastor Mark Driscoll and wife Grace have authored an incredibly relevant book for our sexually-charged culture. The book comes with well-grounded biblical teaching to exhort married couples to live out the Gospel and what that looks like in everyday life. The Driscolls also reveals their personal and family histories to give a context for how they’ve worked at growing their marriage towards oneness as friends and lovers. An accompanying DVD set adds to this personal texture and makes it easier for small group discussions.
Pastor Mark is also unafraid to candidly address the sex questions today’s people have about whether they can or can’t do something. After all, if the church doesn’t have an answer, people are left to make up their own answers under the influence of a mainstream media-driven culture that knows no moral boundaries. The most valuable part of the book for this reviewer is the final chapter that maps out a comprehensive “reverse-engineering” framework of discussion questions that makes accessible the honest communication often advised for marriages but often incomplete in other Christian marriage books.
Addendum: Of course, Driscoll is a lightning-rod for conversation and controversy (though he’s not as edgy as he once was now that his popularity and influence has grown), so as the book releases, it is getting an energetic promotional and marketing effort, and a growing amount of blog and news buzz.
Washington Post observed how Christian leaders talk about marriage and sex with mention of Tim Keller and Rick Warren — and I’d agree that it’s a bit late to the party, as this article noted how Joy of Sex was published back in 1972. Really, almost 40 years later? If the church and pastors don’t address the topic of sex, mainstream media and pop culture sure will and does and has for decades. Better late than never?
Rachel Held Evans has noted in Why Being a Pastor Doesn’t Automatically Make You a Sex Therapist her reactions to the book’s good, bad, and ugly. Tony Jones (A Complementarian Who Thinks Mark Driscoll Is a Misogynist) won’t review this book. David Moore blogged at The Burner that Mark Driscoll Thinks Wives Are Only Good for Sex. Raleigh Examiner stated the obvious: Mark Driscoll and Real Marriage spark controversy.
What these critiques have overlooked (or editorially left out due to length, or their emphasis on points of disagreement) is Driscoll’s emphasis on the crucial essentiality of friendship in a marriage, the value of genuine curiosity to cultivate a real relationship, and not that marriage for just sex; thought Pastor Mark freely uses the phrase, “friends with benefits.” One quote I found in the book, “The biblical pattern for Christian marriage is free and frequent sex” raised my eyebrows. Hadn’t heard that one before.
[disclosure: I received a review copy via booksneeze]