I know there’s a lot of controversy going around Driscoll’s new book.
* I’ve been getting a lot of heat for this. I’m apologize if I sinned against anyone in any way or form through this post. If I am not Christlike at all in this post, then I ask for your forgiveness. Please notify me asap if I have. I have stated multiple times for everyone to decide and discern for yourself using the Word of God. I tried my best to inform my readers and to speak the truth in love. (Ephesians 4:15) My opinion is simply that I personally find no shame in not reading the (whole) book but if you want to read it and it benefits you, then be discerning about it. Thanks for taking the time to read this and God bless!
Should I read Real Marriage?
Background info: I’m a member of Mars Hill Church. I’ve been listening to Mark Driscoll since I was 16 and he’s one of my favorite preachers. However, it is important to be very discerning of your leaders. I’m quite familiar with how Driscoll writes as I have read many of his books and read his blog often. I thoroughly enjoy Driscoll’s teachings and writings but I am still reluctant and hesitant to endorse Real Marriage.
However, just because Driscoll says something does not mean it’s right. Just because this book is number 1 on Amazon does not mean that you have to agree with everything he says. He is a sinner (as am I) and sinners make mistakes.
I also made it a point to read Driscoll’s own Q&A with Christianity Today, his article in The Washington Post as well as his current blog posts. This way, I would have a balanced, unbiased view on both sides. Now taking some of my background in mind, here we go:
The highlight of what the Driscolls teach on marriage is probably the importance of friendship and their honesty. I also appreciate that he does have the boldness to talk about such topics and is being real about it. I also kind of like the controversy that’s going on since people are not just mindlessly agreeing with everything. They’re actually speaking up with what they like or dislike, agree or disagree, and the pros and cons. (most of the time using the Bible) I like listening to the variety of different opinions regarding this book. I also find it quite interesting that so many people are reading this. Understandably, the Driscoll’s have a huge platform and are fairly well known even in the secular world.
Challies writes, “There are also factual errors, like when the Driscolls state that Solomon was the child born of David and Bathsheba’s adultery (when, in fact, that child died and Solomon was born later)” Sorry to burst anyone’s bubble, but I am shocked about this error. (2 Samuel 12:14-31) It probably shocked me more than the other things he’s written… I’m surprised the editors and publishers didn’t catch this either as the Bible clearly states that the child died. Eek! That credibility part kind of simmered down just a tad… Let’s go to the Bible:
Then David comforted his wife, Bathsheba, and went in to her and lay with her, and she bore a son, and he called his name Solomon. And the LORD loved him - 2 Samuel 12:24
In Jerusalem David took more wives and became the father of more sons and daughters.These are the names of the children born to him there: Shammua, Shobab, Nathan, Solomon- 1 Chronicles 14:3-4
Not only is this an error but multiple reviewers have said that there is a huge misunderstanding of Ephesians 5 as well as 1 Corinthians 6:12 being taken out of context. Most of these reviews are by solid Reformed theologians I look up to as they back up their positions with Scripture. Another thing I noticed is the problem with the grid and the lack of Driscoll mentioning the motives of the heart (saying that plastic surgery is okay for people to feel more attractive to their spouses) The Bible says “For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well,” (Psalm 139:13-14 ESV).”What is the motive of this? Does it bring glory to God?
“This relates to a story you tell about a time Grace had her long hair cut and got a “short, mommish haircut.” Mark, you disliked the cut and write that Grace “had put a mom’s need for convenience before being a wife.” I understand that Driscoll is a total manly “dude’s dude” but he puts emphasis on outward appearance. I want to know where the emphasis on inner beauty (1 Peter 3:3-4) or the highly praised Proverbs 31 woman or mentioning a woman after God’s own heart. Does this bring glory to God? Is there an emphasis on the gospel message the uniting marriage?
I want to make this very clear. I don’t want anyone to make their opinion based off mine.
- I want you all to be Bereans.
- Read the Bible and search out Scripture.
- I encourage you to back up your opinions with The Word of God.
- Ask yourself thought provoking questions.
- Read it with discernment.
- Remember there is the good and bad in almost every book.
I have compiled a list of 10 reviews/resources that I found to be helpful (both yay and nay)
Women of God magazine: http://www.wogmagazine.com/2012/01/book-review-real-marriage/
Tim Challies (there are 3 parts, I just included the first one): http://www.challies.com/book-reviews/book-review-real-marriage
The Gospel Coalition: http://thegospelcoalition.org/book-reviews/review/real_marriage
9 Reasons Real Marriage is for Singles: http://pastormark.tv/2012/01/04/9-reasons-real-marriage-is-for-singles
Pastor Mark’s blog (appropriate for children) http://pastormark.tv/2012/01/11/is-real-marriage-appropriate-for-kids
I have put enormous thought and consideration (months before the book was published) in deciding to read if this book would be a beneficial and edifying read (I have read the first chapter though just to get a glimpse of it). I have asked a wide variety of people married and single from my church. I have contemplated both sides of the argument. I’m cautious of every book and I’m really not trying to criticize Driscoll. If it was a different author, I would still approach the book in the same manner. With this in mind, I would caution all of my followers to be discerning of every book. His singleness, dating, and marriage series has been very helpful to me. His various ministries have also been a blessing to my life. (Resurgence, music, blogs, books, videos, sermons, Elephant Room, Gospel Coalition, etc) I highly admire his way of engaging church, culture, and community. In addition, I like how he tells boys to man up and how to treat women. As I said earlier, I thoroughly enjoy Driscoll’s other teachings and writings.
Personally, as someone who has never had marriage nor sex, I find no shame in deciding not to read the whole book. I don’t know if it’s entirely necessary since I have to listen to the sermon series anyways. However, I’ve heard wonderful 5 star reviews of The Meaning of Marriage by Keller. I’ve started to read a bit of it and I would say it is a gospel saturated read. Scripture has a very high view on marriage and as God’s children we should too. Although I am still unsure about Real Marriage, I will let you know asap if anything changes. My opinion is definitely the minority and the unpopular one but I still love you all dearly. If you do decide to read it and enjoy it, remember that we are all family in Christ and minor issues like this should not divide the church or our love and service for one another :)
Theology remains something of a bad word in Christian circles. I’d believe that the success of a book like The Shackhas proven this to us yet again. Many people seem eager to embrace some form of Christian spirituality but have little desire or love for theology. Theology is linked in people’s minds with frigid, dead religion that cares more about principles and matters of the head than deeds and matters of the heart. It is associated with fundamentalism and with cold conservatism. We need only look at the meaning and etymology of the word, though, to conclude that God requires all Christians to be theologians.
The word theology, as I’m sure you know, is derived from two Greek words. The root “theos” means God and the suffix “-ology” comes from the Greek word for speak. So what theology really means is “speaking of God” or as has become the more accurate definition, “the study of God.” That sounds quite inoffensive, doesn’t it? If you are a Christian, I suspect that it sounds exciting. If you love God and if you are loved by God, you will want to know him. I don’t think any Christian can deny that we are called by God to learn more about him and to study his ways. The process of sanctification is just that—learning more and more about God and his requirements for our lives. Our lifelong challenge is to mold our lives to fit into that image.
So what is it, then, that people are rebelling against when they disassociate themselves from theology? I believe that what they are running from is better termed “theology-ology.” It is a study of the study of God. If a Christian is diligent in studying God through the right motives and methods and for the right reasons, there will necessarily be change in his life. He cannot help but be changed by the living Word of God. However, if someone studies God only to acquire knowledge about him without applying any of that knowledge to his life, he is not so much studying God as he is studying the study of God. The study of God when done as he has commanded must always lead to application, heart change and then life change. Conversely, studying God through improper motives and methods with no view to application cannot affect true heart change in anyone.
There seems to be a fine line between theology and theology-ology. The line is not found in what we study as much as it is the motives behind the study and the result we expect to achieve. For example, 1 Corinthians 11 speaks about the necessity of women wearing head coverings while in church. I can look at that section of the Bible in two different ways. I can go in with a motive of wanting to show that women are subservient to men and sin if they do not wear head coverings in church. I can begin this study with the intent to prove to my wife that she needs to wear a head covering next Sunday. On the other hand, I can turn to this section with a motive of wanting to understand what God is trying to teach us in this passage. I can seek to understand the principles the Bible is teaching and how those relate to people today. I can begin my study with the intent to learn something that I can humbly and prayerfully apply to my life. This is an extreme or simplistic example perhaps, but it displays the difference between wanting to acquire knowledge of God through proper or improper methods and for right or wrong intentions.
I love theology. I love studying God and continually learning about him and about what he has done. I must confess that there is a part of me that also loves to study the study of God. There are many times in my life where I have learned about God simply so I could have more knowledge about him, never intending to change myself in response to what I have learned. There have been times where I have studied God just so I could convince others of their need to change. It is my prayer that whenever I study God I do so with proper motives and with a humble attitude, preparing myself to be changed by what I learn about him