Mark Driscoll and his wife Grace recently published a book entitled Real Marriage: The Truth About Sex, Friendship, and Life Together
Let me say this before I get into the review: Driscoll tends to evoke a love-him-or-hate-him kind of reaction. I have found his books (the few I’ve read) and some of his sermons to be helpful, but I don’t agree with him on everything. That’s all I can really say about the author—I don’t closely follow his church, ministry, or website.
Here are some of the book’s strengths as I see them:
*I was struck with the couple’s transparency regarding the problems they experienced in the early years of their married life. We tend to think of the pastor and his wife as the “model” couple, but Mark and Grace bravely shattered that myth. This part of the book really spoke to me as a pastor/minister because I don’t want to repeat their mistakes.
*I appreciated the emphasis on friendship. A good marriage, they argue, is built on the husband and wife being best friends. This is one of the most important points of the book.
*I also enjoyed some of the lessons from Christian history. You’ll see a stark contrast between the marriage of Martin Luther (which was generally happy) and John Wesley (whose marriage is referred to by some as the “30 years war”).
The book has some detailed sexual content. The authors, for example, discuss their sexual history before marriage and the problems this caused after they were married. The book also details the authors’ views on what is permissible within marriage (this will be a very controversial chapter).
I can see why some readers may feel like the sexual content was overkill or too much information. But I also understand a pastor’s desire to be as frank and thorough as possible. When I do seminars with students, for example, I have an “anything goes” approach to Q/A time. I’d rather them get the information from me than from some other source.
My greatest concern with the book is the way the Song of Solomon (or Song of Songs) is used. This biblical text celebrates love and intimacy within marriage—we can all agree on that. But Driscoll attempts to use certain verses as proof-texts for specific sexual acts. I believe some of his hypersexual interpretations demean the poetic beauty and mystery of the Song of Solomon.
I don’t agree with Driscoll on everything, and I thought Love and Respect and When Sinners Say “I Do” were both better books in terms of preparing me for marriage. Regardless, I think Real Marriage was worthwhile read with some valuable insights (note: check out my Amazon store for a list of recommended books for engaged couples).
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