I recently was given a copy of Mark and Grace Driscoll's new book titled "Real Marriage". I'm not paid for my review, though the book was free from BookSneeze on the condition that I write an unbiased review (like I'd write any other kind...).
First, it must be stated that I am a fan of Mars Hill Church and Mark Driscoll - having read most of his books and listened to most of his sermons the past 8 years. I state that so you know that I have high expectations for his work at this point.
Real Marriage: The Truth About Sex, Friendship, And Life Together
By: Mark and Grace Driscoll
Length (Hardcover): 272 pages
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Whenever you're reading/listening/watching Mark Driscoll, you expect a lot of Jesus, Scripture, humor, and no beating around the bush. He and Grace manage to allow his strong character to come through in the book while not drowning out the voice of Grace. I'm inclined to say that while both men and women will benefit greatly from this book, it is still more of a guy's book with the strength of influence Mark has in the book. Ladies, don't let that keep you away though, this is an outstanding book.
Weakness - there are places where I think Mark Driscoll pushes beyond the biblical text in his exegesis. I think he's worked too hard to find scripture to support his ideas rather than working from the other way around on this one. I think he'd have been better off in some places just being open & honest without trying to force scripture to match with what he was saying. Additionally - there are a few places where the book is disjointed making reading not flow as you might like (mismatched headings, problems with footnotes & things like that). I suspect they'll get cleaned up if/when a second printing happens.
Who is it best for? I think this is probably best for people on the fringe of Christianity, who at some level would submit to the teaching of scripture, but who are deeply in the world. Especially if they are having a rough go of it in their marriage and need someone to relate to.
Would I use this with a group of mixed college singles? No. Some of the specifics and explicitness is more than I think we should address in that context.
Could it be used as a discipleship tool? I think it could. The book has its flaws, but overall I think it is addressing some important things in ways few within Christianity are willing to talk about things. I can see this being particularly relevant in ministry opportunities like those that are frequently presented to Mars Hill Church where Driscoll pastors. I my small town small church it is of less usefulness, though still a tool to have or at least be aware of.
The Driscoll's do a solid job of dealing with the question of "Can we ________?" within a marriage - with my above concerns still in play. Speaking frankly about subjects many in the church, especially in older generations, are hesitant to tackle. They don't shy away from talking about masturbation, oral sex or anal sex. This isn't your grandpa's Biblical sex manual. The discussion is frank, yet generally aims to be biblically balanced in my opinion. In a culture that is so pornified, this is a voice that needs to be heard. That said, if you go to a church that insists on the KJV only and most everyone is related to everyone else, I'm guessing this book - especially Chapter 10 - might be a "bit" over the top for you and offensive.
While their tackling of hot topics is greatly helpful, the best part of the book in my opinion is how married people need to relate to one another and build their relationship upon Christ. The need for friendship within marriage and the idea that we have to continue to pursue our spouse in the marriage relationship is wisdom that bears continually being repeated. The raw transparency that Mark and Grace Driscoll use to tell their own story within the context of teaching what to do/not to do makes for very interesting reading and really helps set some of the ideas home in a deep and personal way.