My most recent book for review from Thomas Nelson was one which has created quite a stir (this article gives you a good idea of the controversy...). Pastor Mark Driscoll seems to attract controversy (not unlike Christ??) with his point-blank statements which speak, I think, more of his personality as a man, than his heart or beliefs as a child of God. But anyway, back to the topic at hand...
"Real Marriage" by Pastor Mark and his wife Grace, has been met with the same confusion of praise and criticism. To the liberal-minded, the book is far too focused on submission and gender-roles, and they read Grace as being oppressed by her husband with illusions of being master of his house. To the conservative-minded, the book is far too tolerant in its perspectives on sex. While the silliest criticism, I found, was that Mark and Grace were far too honest in sharing their own stories and lessons in their marriage. To me, it kind of sounds like people are just on the hunt for ways to disregard the message.
Personally, I thought it was one of the better of the marriage books I've read. Honest and deep, the husband and wife authors laid bare their personal stories for the glory of God and the good of those of us who might read it and learn from it. They covered a few basics for relationshipping, like communication and forgiveness. They called this "taking out the trash" in your marriage relationship, and wrote under such headings as:
* Forgiveness is not denying, approving, or diminishing sin that is committed against us
* Forgiveness is not enabling sin
* Forgiveness is not waiting for someone to acknowledge sin, apologize, and repent
* Forgiveness is not forgetting about sin committed against us
* Forgiveness is not dying emotionally and no longer feeling the pain of the transgression
* Forgiveness is not a one-time event
"Every married couple has to continually practice repentance of sin if they hope to have any loving, lasting life together. As one writer wisely said, 'Couples don't fall out of love so much as they fall out of repentance'." (qtd. Gary Thomas, "Sacred Marriage")
The entire book was written on the premise that, "Marriage is for our holiness before our happiness. Your spouse is the most sanctifying, and often most frustrating, relationship you will have. God will use our spouses to expose our selfishness and make us to be increasingly more humble servants like Jesus Christ." And this concept was woven through every topic discussed, including the chapters on sex and God's design for it, writing that the design for sex is to teach husbands and wives to serve one another, and be united in all aspects of life. A particularly good quote: "Husbands and wives live on a continuum from selfish to servant both in and out of the bedroom. If a marriage is between two selfish people, it will be cold and functional. If a marriage is between a selfish person and a servant, the marriage will be selfish and abusive. If a marriage is between two servants, it will be increasingly uniting and satisfying both in and out of the bedroom."
Whatever side of the controversy you agree with, this book is worth a read if you are married or may one day be married. The concepts are applicable to life in general, because they are biblical concepts given to us by the designer of life. Translated through the eyes of this pastor and his wife, yes. But well-worth your thought and consideration. I would recommend "Real Marriage: The truth about Sex, Friendship, and Life Together" by Mark and Grace Driscoll. Go out and find a copy of your own!
* *I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their [...] 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