Feb 15, 2012

Real Marriage (A Book Review)

I was excited about my latest book to get my hands on and review.  It's Real Marriage: The Truth About Sex, Friendship, and Life Together by Mark and Grace Driscoll.  I have read several of Driscoll's book and appreciate both his commitment to biblical theology and his stand on biblical issues and preaching in a very pagan culture in Seattle.  Sometimes I think I like Driscoll because he has a platform to say some things that I am thinking but that my involvement in conservative, Bible-belt, Christianity doesn't always allow me to say.  Driscoll definitely has an edge to him that has gotten him on opposite sides with other Christian leaders I admire.  He speaks sometimes with an abrasiveness and has been known to throw curse words in his sermons (although I think he has tempered that after his conversation with John Piper).  Nevertheless, Driscoll's theology is usually sound and his advice is usually very practical.  That is why I was interested to see how he would tackle the subject of marriage.  Some have praised Driscoll's book and some have criticized how he handled some sensitive subjects of marriage. (Tim Challies did a fair review of it here.)

Real Marriage is an appropriate title.  In this book, Mark and Grace try to get very honest and candid.  They deal with some very difficult subjects and questions that many books on marriage don't deal with or do so very lightly.  Some have asked if this is the kind of book you want your children to read about marriage.  My answer is "Probably not when they are teenagers, but they aren't thinking marriage anyway."  However, I wouldn't have a problem recommending this book to a 20-something who was looking at marriage.  It is frank and raw, but I think many young couples are looking for that.  I appreciate the Driscoll's honesty about all the flaws that were in their marriage for many years.  I appreciate Grace's vulnerabilty to talk about her abuse and how it affected her marriage and her understanding of the gospel.  I think the Driscoll's chapter on "Sex: god, gross, or gift?" is a very helpful look at a subject that is rampantly destroying our culture and many marriages. 

One of the most helpful parts of the book is the premise that the Driscoll's have that marriage should be about building a friendship.  This is an area that isn't covered in most books on marriage and consequently many people go through their marriages as "partners" in raising kids and splitting money, but not as friends.  Many times we marry someone we feel like is almost a best-friend and then we don't spend time working on that friendship once the wedding cake is gone and the bird seed is swept up. 

The chapter that raises the most eyebrows and concerns is called "Can We _____?" and covers questions that the Driscoll's get often on sex and marriage.  I wouldn't agree with all their conclusions.  I don't think everyone will.  However, there is much more in this book that is very profitable outside of that chapter.  It's written in a style that is raw and will be received well by many people.  It's a readable and doable book.  It's an honest book.  It's one that I would be happy to recommend to most people (probably with a caveat at first). 

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com <http://BookSneeze®.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”