It seems every time Mark Driscoll gets up to speak, writes a blog post, or publishes a book there are droves of people who are against it even before viewing the content for themselves. While I agree that a lot of criticism towards him is warranted I do think a lot of it unhelpful and presumptuous. The same has been true with Real Marriage: The truth about sex, friendship and life together. On the first couple pages we are presented with numerous glowing reviews from some of the big guy of Christianity (Celebrity Pastors ), Andy Stanley, Darrin Patrick, Daniel Akin, James Macdonald and Wayne Grudem. I found helpful what Wayne and his wife had to say about the book.
While some sections will be controversial, this book as a whole is a wise, insightful, biblical, and startlingly honest guide to happy marriage. Mark and Grace Driscoll rightly warn about the long-lasting consequences of sexual sin, point out the way to a very happy marriage in obedience to God, and bravely address questions that are rarely brought up in a church setting.
Real Marriage is divided into three main sections. Part 1 – Marriage, Part 2—Sex, and Part 3—the last day. I found the first section very helpful and applicable Chapter 2 brings to light a subject not found in most marriage books. Marriage is about friendship. The Driscolls spend chapter 2 unpacking for us how friendship in an integral part of a truly Christian marriage and a safeguard against emotional adultery. They share that in their marriage we have made the mistake of assuming we were friends and not working on our friendship as we ought. (page 27) I really liked the analogy used to explain how our marriage changes from being a journey between friends to a team of business partners trying to the pay the bills etc. It proves the point that friendship in marriage does not happen, it takes intentional effort.
The chapter on Men and Marriage as recommended by Mark is for men only. He lays it down hard in his usual style on little boys and men stuck in adolescents. He does make some very strong points which I hope will wake up some the tough chauvinists and tender cowards who may read the book. Near the middle of the chapter he gives a good wake-up call to all husbands;
There are too many guys who turn marriage into job descriptions. He does his responsibility, she does hers, and there’s no emotional connection whatsoever. This is sin of omission. “I didn’t hit her; I didn’t yell at her.” But you didn’t love her. You didn’t pursue her. You didn’t encourage her. You didn’t connect with her. So ultimately you failed her. (page 50)
I think all men could stand to take heed to this warning and I think a lot of marriages are in trouble because the husband isn’t fulfilling his role as husband. As well, at the end of the chapter, he gives some very practical tips for men on how to men in terms of leading their families.
Grace Driscoll took the keyboard for the writing of chapter 4, and she did a fantastic job. She addresses the issue counter-culturally. She has worked to establish her womanhood in the Bible and to bring honor to the Glory of God. In our culture today the man of the household is generalized as an overgrown child and the wife keeps him in check and order. (King of Queens is a good example of this) And the women’s role in these shows is often to be critical and poke fun at his abilities or way of doing things. She deals very well with the issue of wives submitting respectfully to their husbands.
The natural outcome of godly male headship is female fulfillment, not denial of female rights. A wife flourishes with a loving husband, and husband becomes courageous with a respectful wife.(Page 83)
Here Grace really captures what is means for women to submit to their husbands and for men to love their wife as Christ loved the church.
For me chapter 5 was the most helpful, it lays out clearly the little foxes that spoil a marriage. I won’t go into much detail but will list them separately. I think this is a chapter that is worth the price of the book.
- Lack of Repentance
- Lack of Forgiveness
- And the keys to having a good fight.
Chapter 10 will be the most controversial and I will not address it in this review. What I will address is how I think it is helpful. For Christians reading the book, who have never had sex outside of marriage, never been exposed to sexual sin these may not be questions that are being asked. But, I think that people who have had multiple sexual partners and much exposure to sexual sin do have different questions regarding sex that deserve to be answered. Tim Challies as discussed much about the grid method suggest by Driscoll. I would recommend reading it along with book. http://www.challies.com/book-reviews/real-marriage-can-we
The last sections of the book looks good, but it is mostly marriage seminar style homework.
Overall, I think the book is very helpful, maybe in varying degree to people from different backgrounds. There are weakness like Mark reducing Song of Solomon to a book of sex. But, I think with discernment there is something to be taken away from the book for everyone. Throughout the book I can clearly see their love for God and motivations to glorify Him through their marriage. My advice is, read the book, and if your not comfortable with chapter 10 don’t read it. But do not discount the whole book because of that one chapter.