review: real marriage

Real Marriage from Mark & Grace Driscoll is more than your average marriage-ministry. Its mild-controversy between the covers! I’m late coming to the action, in reading this – but here below is my rather longer review, than what I normally post……. here’s one view and another view also. 

Mark Driscoll is the poster-boy, kick-butt pastor for new-wave Calvinism. Here is an all-included marriage-manifesto in the inimitable Driscoll-speak. Real Marriage seeks to be biblical in its scope, practical in its counsel, and offers wide ranging views on what might serve to strengthen marriages.

What foundationally strikes me after two readings is that there is no apparent mutuality in the ‘Real Marriage’ bedroom. The book doesn’t discuss how a wife’s felt sexual needs differ from those of her husband. The book’s lack of mutuality concerns me because I think tenderness is one of the primary ways that God grows a husband’s empathy for his wife.

The first half of the book is an intermingling of personal narrative and pastoral counsel. The personal narrative is primarily a specific and detailed litany of Mrs Driscoll’s sins against Pastor Mark. Tragically in this writing, Mrs Driscoll remains the lead sinner, while Pastor Mark plays only a supporting role. More than concerning….

Chapter 10 is about adventure in the bedroom, with the conclusion being that almost everything on the list that a husbands desire is consistent with Scripture. The typical husband isn’t as blameless as Chapters 9 and 10 imply. Driscoll notes that “the biblical pattern of for Christian marriage is free and frequent sex.” The problem is his interpretation of “free”. From a women’s perspective, his interpretation could led to women being abused and men being tempted. This offers 90-plus pages about sex, 22-pages about friendship, and the rest muddles around about the life-in-between. It sadly not as unified concerning these themes, and will be best read on a chapter-alone basis, as it lacks flow.

There is not a meaningful theology of sex, intimacy or mutual indwelling offered. Mostly it reads as an adrenalin-pumped alpha-male approach, strongly protesting only complimentarian theology, rather than a joined-up man-and-wife approach. For marriage is not less than sexual union, but does sexual relationship truly equate to half-or-more of a marriage?!

Central to Driscolls thesis is this:- “There are no loving marriages apart from repentance and forgiveness. Marriage either gets bitter or better.” They show how a difficult and broken marriage can be repaired, restored, resurrected, renewed, and rejuvenated by the grace of God. Serious brokenness is on display, but so is the more glorious hope and healing that comes through two lives looking and loving Jesus.

There are many subtle and substantive factual errors, like when the Driscolls state that Solomon was the child born of David and Bathsheba’s adultery (when, in fact, that child died and Solomon was born later).

Kevin Leman, Mike Mason or Tim Keller offer more trustworthy wisdom in their writing. The hype about Driscoll is sadly overplayed here in this book:- More drama than originality, sadly not the best marriage book out there. Interesting,……sure, but imbalanced and very incomplete.