You can read other parts of David’s review on Real Marriage: The Truth About Sex, Friendship and Life Together by Mark and Grace Driscoll here, here, and here. There are also lots of other thoughtful reviews bouncing around the interwebs.
Editor’s Note: David may have gone overboard on the title. It has been altered parenthetically due to comments asking for more civility.
Sometimes you see something coming and you’re still blindsided.
When I received Real Marriage: The Truth About Sex, Friendship and Life Together by Mark and Grace Driscoll, there was a certain expectation. TB was expecting something irritating, something provocative and something worthy of the “Crazy Mark Driscoll” pet name I use to refer to the Mars Hill (Seattle) pastor.
I saw it coming, and got blindsided. This book is an astoundingly unbelievable work of disrespect for women.
I’m not much of a feminist. Men and women are different, generally have different gifts and abilities and both are valuable. In our household, I’m the chief decision-maker because my wife and I agree that is what the New Testament instructs. Plenty of people don’t agree with that, and that’s fine.
But holy cow: My wife is still a person, she still has needs that are at least as important as mine, and I am called to serve her as Christ serves the church. I fail a lot, but if I’m not sacrificing my needs for hers then I’m not doing a very good job. (My lovely wife might tell you that I’m not doing a very good job.)
Listen to how many times Mark considers women (and specifically Grace–his wife and co-author) as merely sexual beings:
One night…I had a dream in which I saw some things that shook me to my core. I saw in painful detail Grace sinning sexually during a senior trip she took after high school when we had just started dating. It was like watching a film–something I cannot really explain but the kind of revelation I sometimes receive…Had I known about this sin, I would not have married her. But God told me to marry Grace, I loved her, I had married her as a Christian, we were pregnant, and I was a pastor with a church plant filled with young people who were depending on me. (11-12)
Day after day, for what became years, I spent hours meeting with people untangling the sexual knots in their life, reading every book and every section of the Bible I could find that related to their needs…I had a church filled with single young women who were asking me how they could stop being sexually ravenous and wait for a Christian husband, then I’d go home to a wife whom I was not sexually enjoying. One particularly low moment occurred when a newly saved married couple came in to meet with me. I prayed, then asked how I could serve them. She took charge of the meeting, explained how she really liked her body and sex, and proceeded to take out a list of questions she had about what was acceptable as a Christian for her to do with her husband. It was a very long and very detailed list…After they left the counseling appointment to get to work on the list of acceptable activities, I remember sitting with my head in my hands just moaning and asking God, “Do you really expect me to do this as a new Christian, without a mentor or a pastor, in the midst of my marriage, and hold on for the next fifty years?”
Perhaps the most damaged among us are prostitutes whose bodies have been sacrificed to the god of sex. (112)
As with many things in marriage, communication is key. When I came to the conclusion that the cure for a lot of my moodiness was having more frequent sex with my wife, I simply told her. Yes, it’s that simple… [He goes on to state that when he tried to talk to Grace about his depression, she talked too much about emotions] The truth was I needed to have more frequent sex with my wife, and we needed to discuss how that could happen…To make matters worse, seemingly every book I read by Christians on sex and marriage sounded unfair. Nearly every one said the husband had to work very hard to understand his wife, to relate to her and when he did that to her satisfaction then, maybe, she would have sex with him as a sort of reward.
Some couples use [anal sex] to prevent pregnancy. In conjunction with the rhythm method of birth control in which normal penis-vagina intercourse is suspended on a woman’s days of fertility, it is possible to use anal sex as an option. (186)
This might be a new low for Christian marriage books. Is there more to marriage that male sexual satisfaction?
Mark and Grace Driscoll appear to think not.
We’ll have more from this astounding book in the next few days. It’s pretty entertaining/depressing.
A free copy of this book was provided for review.