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Tough Topic Answered . . . Again?

March 1, 2013

Last Friday I did a review on a book by Dr. Kevin Lehman titled Sheet Music: Uncovering the Secrets of Sexual Intimacy in Marriage. This week I will look at another book addressing marital intimacy. While Sheet Music focused exclusively on the sexual intimacy aspects of marriage, the book I am looking at this week is more about marriage in general, but this book finds its controversy in the chapters dealing with sexual intimacy.

Real Marriage: The Truth About Sex, Friendship, and Life Together (Thomas Nelson, reprint 2013) is a book written by Mark & Grace Driscoll. Overall, this book is worth reading but the reader must be prepared to tackle some difficult subjects. Mark Driscoll is best known for his books about church life (Vintage Jesus and Vintage Church among others) and his blunt preaching style. So a book on marriage penned by him was intriguing to see.

The Driscoll’s broke the book into three sections. The first part addresses “Marriage”, the second is “Sex” and the third is “The Last Day.” These divisions made for clear transitions and allow for a clear closure to the previous topic they are addressing.

The first section is all about the marriage. Friendship is a key theme they return to frequently. Friendship is the base of the marriage. Mark and Grace are very candid in this book regarding not only their successes in marriage, but also their failures. They are real people sharing real experiences. This draws you in as the reader.

The second section of the book has become something of a lightning rod for this book. I would like to discuss a highlight of this book before I address the controversial chapter. In Chapter 7, Grace tells of her sexual abuse in her past. She shares the emotions she went through and describes the areas of her life which had become dysfunctional because of this abuse. Without sharing a great deal of the chapter, I can say this is a necessary chapter for a couple who has a background of abuse to read and talk about. This is the most important chapter of this book.

Chapter 10, titled “Can We ______?” has become the talk of the book. This is the chapter where the controversy comes in due to some of the things Driscoll says are permissible. In this section Mark addresses some of the same questions which Lehman addresses in Sheet Music. In a couple of areas Mark comes to a different conclusion than Lehman. This is where the controversy comes into play. This section is a must read for yourself. Agree with him or not, Mark is answering questions he has been asked and tries to do this in a systematic manner. He first asks “Is this lawful?” according to Scripture, government, and society. Then he asks “Is it helpful?” and last he asks “Is it enslaving?” Using these three questions he addresses the sexual questions people have asked him.

Do I recommend this book? Yes. As with any book, we should be reading our books with a critical eye and comparing the findings of the author with Scripture and then our tradition. We should be challenged by the books we read. This book is a rewarding book to read. First, it is a reminder that we were friends before marriage. It reminds you of the root of the marriage. Second, the Chapter 7 is worth reading it and should be read by all. Last, if you find issues in Chapter 10, I challenge you to look at Mark’s words and conclusions and take them to the Scriptures. Use that chapter as motivation to dig deeper into God’s Word and find out what the Bible does, and does not, say about sexual intimacy.

My question to you is this: knowing all of this, will you give it a read or pass it by?

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