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on January 4, 2012
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.

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.
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on January 24, 2012
Real marriage is vintage Mark Driscoll. The book is full of excellent information, honest interaction with difficult issues, and a willingness to push the lines of prudish evangelical Christianity. Grace Driscoll is very helpful in this honest interaction with her own brokenness and pain.

I appreciated the authentic honesty of Mark and Grace, willing to share from their own shattered lives lessons that can help other imperfect couples. Their raw honesty might offend some, but I found it refreshing and helpful. In fact in my perception this is a great strength to the book.

Chapter 5 is worth the price of the book in its handling of potential conflict issues, forgiveness and bitterness. It was extremely helpful in paving a road forward that will help rebuild broken couples. Was very helpful.

The chapter that most will turn to right away is the Q and A on what is allowed and not allowed in sexual interaction in marriage "can we_______?". This chapter was a disappointment to me in its handling of Scripture and difficult questions. The Driscoll's attempt to be raw and honest again, and some was helpful, but not sure I agree with Biblical interaction or conclusions. This is a chapter that is worth doing, but would prefer more sensitivity to those of us who are not quite as raw, and some of it seems to be written for the shock value.

If you can put up with some of the shock and awe, this is an excellent book on marriage that deals in an honest way with the path towards a healthy marriage. I would recommend it with a few reservations. This book meets a huge need in the Christian church for a broken but hopeful look at marriage.

Book has been provided courtesy of Graf-Martin communications, Inc. Available now at your favourite bookseller
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on January 31, 2012
I do not believe that the institution of marriage will disappear. Its survival in the post-modern world is dependent upon people rediscovering or uncovering a code to live by. It is the law of love and there is much room for us to become graciously law-abiding.

In reading Mark and Grace Driscoll's treatise on 'sex, friendship and life together' I found a couple who invite the reader into their work in progress.

I appreciated the candor and honesty in their confessions. They speak truthfully about their failures to God and each other. They admit to the genuine risk and pain endured in working through the chaos towards healthy love.

They are Bible-based in their understandings as you might expect from one of America's best known preachers. Mark Driscoll has never been one to mince words. He is very direct and often maligned by his critics for being 'too this or that'. But that's also why he appeals to so many. His wife Grace appears to more gentle in her approach, but not wishy-washy. She too speaks with strong conviction.

I did not agree with everything entirely, but there is great value in this read. In defining Christian marriage, they do a good job at aiming for the middle. This is not male chauvinist propaganda, but a call for men to love their wives with greater intentionality and fidelity.

Their section on sexuality was tastefully practical and answers many questions that do not usually come up in polite conversation with your pastor and his wife.

Some great statistics and sociological insights make this a good read for Christians wanting to improve upon their marriage.
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on March 13, 2012
"Real Marriage" by Mark and Grace Driscoll
As I enjoy reading, and also enjoy free books, I am part of this thing called booksneeze. It is from Thomas Nelson and I can order one book at a time (from a list of books), read the book, and post a review on the book. Recently i read the book "Real Marriage" by Mark and Grace Driscoll and here is my review.

As you can probably guess from the title, this book is about marriage. The Driscoll's talk about everything from being a servant lover, to working through the shame of sexual assault, to enjoying our freedom in Christ with regards to our marriages, to answering some of the most common questions people have about sex. They use their own marriage as the backdrop to the book and they share some of the heartaches and struggles that they have been through over the years.
The main message of the book is essentially that we are to learn, from scripture, how to be the wife or husband that God intended us to be. Along the way we are to search our lives and as we are made aware of areas we have veered off course we are to repent (turn from those things) and seek God's direction instead of our own.

My reaction to the book:
I thought this was a fantastic book. It was written almost as a conversation, which makes sense as it was written to compliment the sermon series that Mark Driscoll is preaching. The information was great, the statistics were helpful but not overbearing, and the challenge to be who we were biblically created to be was a great challenge. I have read a few books on marriage but this one was different. It honestly made me think about my own marriage and how I was contributing to it. I think it was also beneficial to have their testimonies interwoven into the book as it served as an example of where they were and how they moved forward.
I also liked how scripture was used throughout the book and how they drew from the Songs of Solomon on Marriage.
My only complaint (and I use that word lightly) is that for the most part they have figured out the issues they had in their marriage and are writing to book in the light of that. It would have been nice if there was a part of the book that was about a struggle they are working through right now. Besides that it was a great book and I would highly recommend it to anyone.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the 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
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I sat down to read this book worried that it would be a chore to read through, filled with nothing but advice and written like a text-book. Instead, the author's humour and humility swept me into the story of their lives and led me on a Biblical discovery of God's design for marriage and sex. Their writing is refreshing in its honesty, with no attempts to pretend at having lived perfect lives, as can sometimes occur in the Christian world. No reader could accuse them of being false or hypocritical. Instead, they write in a way that will bring readers to a place of freedom and grace, and give sound knowledge and wisdom that is sure to bless any marriage that takes their guidance to heart.

Real Marriage is easy to read, filled with interesting topics, and if nothing else is sure to get couples talking about what is and isn't working in their marriage. Sometimes it can be hard for couples to talk about their sex lives or speak openly about pornography or masturbation or lust. Working through this book together will give husbands and wives the chance to freely discuss these issues if they haven't yet done so, in a non-judgmental way. I especially loved the emphasis on husband and wives being best friends, and how this aspect can be so often forgotten in a relationship. My wife and I are, indeed, the best of friends, and I know this is a huge part of what makes our marriage such a blessing to me!

I highly recommend this book and give it 5 out of 5 stars.

Advanced Reader's Copy of the book has been provided courtesy of Thomas Nelson and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc. Available at your favourite bookseller from Thomas Nelson.
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on January 17, 2012
If you are looking for a book that is going to transform your marriage this is the book for you! Authors Mark and Grace Driscoll talk from the heart providing examples from their marriage and dating experiences. They talk about the tough subjects that deal with sex and relationships. They hold no punches. What a great resource this is as The Driscolls answer the real life questions that they have received from people who live in the real world...but want to honour our very real God in all aspects of their life including in the bedroom. If you are looking for answers to questions you never would dare to ask...or maybe no one would must read this book. I love how candid the authors are about their mistakes and their victories. I would give this book 5 stars.

Advanced Reader's Copy of the book has been provided courtesy of Thomas Nelson and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc. Available at your favourite bookseller from Thomas Nelson
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on January 15, 2012
A marriage of 20 years has guts to spill, stories to tell and lessons to teach. Mark Driscoll and his wife Grace have done just that in their new book Real Marriage; The Truth About Sex, Friendship, & Life Together. Of course this book is not a detailed account of their sex life, as many I am sure are hoping, instead it is a book that shares the truth about what can happen in a marriage, what can end a marriage, what totally messes up a marriage and what can be done to start healing in a marriage.

This book is a heavy read, every page is packed with punch and opportunities to better your own marriage, sex life, and life. It's a page turner, arming you with information that your mother forgot to tell you. We all waltz into marriage with our own ideas of what it is. Usually it's an idea that a marketing company, an author, a TV producer or someone in our lives has given us.

If you are married you've probably been hit square between the eyes with an eye opening reality, about 3 months into your marriage, that this might not be exactly what you signed up for. Everyone else's marriage seems to be fine, you figure yours will be too, someday it will measure up and be okay, or you concede defeat and grin and bear it. This book is a tool to change your marriage from a grin and bear it to a marriage filled with joy, great sex, and real communication.

It doesn't just stop there, it is packed full of questions, that as Christians, we've all asked ourselves; Can we do that?! You know the stuff that you wouldn't dare ask your mother, you're too embarrassed to ask a friend and you certainly wouldn't want your pastor to find out you've tried a few of them. Mark and Grace bring a biblical perspective to the questions you thought you'd never hear a pastor answer honestly, thoughtfully and prayerfully.

The final chapter is chalked so full of quality life changing tools that it, in itself, could be a stand alone book.

This book will change your life if you let it. It can be read and shelved, or it can be read and applied. Depending on which you choose your life and marriage will be better for having just read it.
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on January 12, 2012
There is some good stuff in here about marriage - it will make you think. At times they were very open and honest. Other times it would have been helpful to have practical examples. If you are into reading every book on marriage, then include this one. But if you want to choose one resource, I would choose Andy Stanley's iMarriage DVD OR Fit to be tied by Bill and Lynne Hybels or any of John Gottman's marriage books. This book contains good stuff rarely found in print on the dangers of porn. Other times it is the same stuff you read in any marriage book that is 30 years old. Overall I found the book best suited to middle class educated white folks - the roles of men and women are very set in stone Mark's mind and he sets up his ideal (man earning the living, woman at home with kids) as the only way. If I was to describe the book in one word it would: clinical textbook. Mark feels he has all the answers and doles out the "truth" to you, nicely pre-packaged. As someone who has been married 20 years and does pre-marital and marriage counselling, I would not hand this out as a resource, except for the porn sections.

"Book has been provided courtesy of Graf-Martin Communications, Inc. Available now at your favourite bookseller."
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on January 10, 2012
Another marriage book? Every now and then, someone somewhere will write on this evergreen topic every year. This year is no different. In this book, the Driscolls provide a book that contains a point-blank exposé (journalistic detail) about their own marriage, a well-researched treatise on sex and sexual matters, as well as the much talked about controversial chapter on 'Can We _____?" It is written in three parts. Part One is on Marriage, while Part Two is on Sex. Part Three is an attempt to redeem the whole situation by 're-engineering' one's lives and marriage.

The core conviction is to use this book as a way for married couples to become 'best friends and lovers' like how God has intended. In order to present this 'Real Marriage' picture, the Driscolls lead by example by sharing openly and honestly about themselves. They admit their sleeping around with others prior to marriage. They confess their lack of openness to each other in their early years of marriage. They share their continuing struggles candidly. At the same time, both affirm that their marriage has been transformed under the love and grace of God.

Part One argues about the need to develop friendships via the acronym FRIENDS, which stands for:

F = Fruitful; R=Reciprocal; I=Intimate; E=Enjoyable; N=Needed; D=Devoted; S=Sanctifying.
Mark devotes one chapter as a man to men while Grace provides a chapter to share from a women's perspective. It concludes with a call to take out the trash of bitterness, to adopt a sense of personal repentance, and to seek mutual forgiveness.

Part Two addresses all readers to ponder on whether they are seeing sex as a 'god' in itself, a gross act, or a gift of God. The authors challenge the reader to move from disgrace to grace, from the waywardness of lust through pornography, from selfish lovers to servant lovers, and the bold chapter called, 'Can we....?' This is the much talked-about chapter that covers taboo topics like masturbation, oral sex, anal sex, sex toys, to other debatable areas like birth control, cosmetic surgery, and even cybersex!

Part Three is a chapter that sets forth a plan for action. This important chapter argues against reactionary, conformity, or independent rebellion against God's will for marriages. It encourages readers to adopt an intentional approach of obedience, and a holy purposeful passion.

Closing Thoughts

Contrary to what some hype suggests, this book is not as 'controversial' as I thought. Bold yes. Controversial, not quite. While many are talking about the taboo topics raised in the book, I feel that the value of the book lies in the overall shape of discussion. By admitting their own struggles, the Driscolls are inviting people to share in the journey of openness and recovery together. Their teachings on marriage and sex come from their wealth of experience as pastors and counselors. If I were to fault the book, I feel that Part Three appears rather short and disjointed from the rest of the book. For such an important chapter, it requires more researched and arguments rather than a few pages that look more like a laundry list of to-do pointers. While the other chapters contain double digit citations, Part Three has only 2! Perhaps an additional chapter can be added to give more facts and figures about the re-engineering process. Maybe another book can be written to complement this book.

This is a fresh voice to an old topic. It is highly readable and I warmly recommend this book for all readers, both married and unmarried.

Ratings: 4.5 stars of 5.


"Advanced Reader's Copy of the book has been provided courtesy of Thomas Nelson and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc. Available at your favourite bookseller from Thomas Nelson".
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on August 7, 2014
When I found out that Mars church bought their way onto the New York Times best seller list for this book, it somehow all came together for me. I can't imagine how many sources he must have spliced together and how many ghost writers or editors must have been involved before he came up with something not guilty of plagiarism. But I'd be interested to have the authors of the 60 or so books he "researched" for this pop psych exercise. Is there anything "wrong"? Well, that depends on your views on anal sex. Apart from that, I found it to be a nice bible-less read about universal truths regarding marriage.
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