My senior pastor asked me to read Mark and Grace Driscoll's new book "Real Marriage" and to give him my thougths. I had read it when it came out last year, but I had to give it another scan to give him some feedback. When I passed on my "review," another pastor on our staff suggested that I post it on INFO, too. Why didn't I think of that?
I'm something of a Mark Driscoll fan, not in that I agree with everything he says and does, but hearing him makes me think and forces me to return to scripture and to Christ for Truth. I'm also one of those guys who likes his no-nonsense style (He's sort of the Howard Stern of the conservative Christian world). Because of that, I'm able to enjoy a book like Real Marriage while still maintaining a reasonable level of discernment regarding what I don't like about it.
That said, I could recommend this book to similarly discerning readers with a few caveats. However, I would probably not give it to a newlywed couple as a foundational manual on marriage. There are few books I would pass on with an "everything in it is awesome" recommendation.
"Real Marriage" attempts to be an honest look at what Christ-centered marriage could and should be. I like most of the Driscoll's observations, and I enjoy their transparent autobiographical writing style. I particularly liked the chapter on friendship, something that most of us desire for our marriages, but that few of us truly experience.
In spite of the parts I genuinely liked, there are a few concerns that I have (and would warn others about before reading):
*I am concerned that they interpret Song of Solomon as something of a sex manual, with certain allegories giving direct reference to specific sexual acts/behaviors. While I think we can make some of those assumptions, I think there is risk when we see it as an instruction manual and not beautiful poetry that shows how the passion for a lover can also be reflected in our passion for Christ.
*While I appreciate tons of practical application, the Driscolls don't lay a particularly strong biblical/gospel foundation as a lens to view marriage through. They offer more of a "Me Tarzan, You Jane" vibe as it relates to sexual and familial roles. This may fit for some, but there are more significant biblical roles and parameters that are under-emphasized.
*Finally, I don't fully agree with the most controversial section of the book, called "Can we ______?" I am glad that they are willing to speak frankly about some of these issues, but I'm not sure I fully agree with the filter they use to determine what is appropriate. They use (exclusively) I Corinthians 6:12 as their litmus test for sexual activity, asking three questions of everything:
Is it lawful?
Is it helpful?
Is it enslaving?
There isn't anything wrong with these questions, but I just don't think they are sufficient to cover everything. They don't fully address motive, what enables us to most honor/reflect Christ in marriage, etc. I also don't agree with some of their opinions, so maybe that taints my opinion.
If you are a strict rule-follower who is prone to read books with an "all or nothing" attitude, this probably isn't the book for you. If you're able to read someone's perspective, gaining applicable insights but rejecting things that don't resonate with God's Spirit in your circumstance, then give it a read.
I sure liked it.