You can read other parts of my 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. But we’ll continue in my review style for better or worse.
I’m a man and I understand that men are visually-oriented when it comes to sex–though I know a few who are not. But being visually-stimulated seems to be very important for Mark, and though he attempts to make room for visually-oriented wives, the idea that there are as many visually-oriented wives as there are husbands is hard to believe.
So we end up with more focus on the husband’s sexual needs in marriage.
The chapter “Selfish Lovers and Servant Lovers” starts with an anecdote about (again) how a wife wouldn’t have sex with her husband enough. She was a selfish lover. There are lots of ways to be a selfish lover. How many of the following “problems” are stereotypically female?
- Rarely have sex
- Too little time and too little effort
- Only have sex when we both feel like it at the same time
- Rarely initiate
- Let ourselves go–become undesirable
- Sexual sabotage
- Make our spouses earn sex
- Sharing our bed with children and pets
- Separate beds or bedrooms
- Difficult seasons
- Secret sins
- Sins committed against us in the past
- Inappropriate sharing with others
- Lack of pleasure
- Wrong perspective of the body
Be a visually generous spouse. using your spouse’s visual propensity to your advantage and your spouse’s pleasure…Make love with the lights on, or by candlelight. Sleep together naked. Undress in front of your spouse. Bathe in front of your spouse. “Flash” your spouse around the house. Pull the curtains and hang out in your house naked. [Hasn't he ever seen "The Apology" episode of Seinfeld?] Dress in clothes that fit and flatter your figure and build. Have a mirror hung near your bed. And keeping an eye on weight and working toward wellness is always appreciated. (168).
This seems good for guys, but where is the consideration for women?
It gets worse. The only Biblical example given for “servant loving” is:
Stripping. Yes, stripping.
I think that Driscoll does some exegetical gymnastics with his interpretation of Song of Solomon 6:13-7:13. I’m not qualified to say exactly. It seems like every description is turned to a solely sexual meaning, and that this “dance of Manaheim” is used to advise wives to do this for their husbands. Not that a lot of husbands wouldn’t enjoy that, it just seems myopic and disrespectful to women to put this into a book ostensibly about marriage.
Consider for a moment how radically free [the 'Beloved' in Song of Solomon] is. Not only is the account of her talking to, stripping for, and being with her husband three thousand years old, but it is written in a conservative Eastern cultural context for devout Jews. Many wives wonder if they woud be tramps to act in such a way. If it is with their husbands, then they are simply being wives to God’s glory and their joy…The Bible reveals that even stripping, though not required, can be redeemed within marriage. (173-4)
More this afternoon.
A copy of this book was provided for review.