About This Blog

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

"Real Marriage" (Mark & Grace Driscoll)

TITLE: Real Marriage: The Truth About Sex, Friendship, and Life Together
AUTHOR: Mark and Grace Driscoll
PUBLISHER: Nashville, TN: Thomas-Nelson, 2012, (240 pages).

Another marriage book? Every now and then, someone somewhere will write on this evergreen topic every year. This year is no different. In this book, the Driscolls provide a book that contains a point-blank exposé (journalistic detail) about their own marriage, a well-researched treatise on sex and sexual matters, as well as the much talked about controversial chapter on 'Can We _____?" It is written in three parts. Part One is on Marriage, while Part Two is on Sex. Part Three is an attempt to redeem the whole situation by 're-engineering' one's lives and marriage.

The core conviction is to use this book as a way for married couples to become 'best friends and lovers' like how God has intended. In order to present this 'Real Marriage' picture, the Driscolls lead by example by sharing openly and honestly about themselves. They admit their sleeping around with others prior to marriage. They confess their lack of openness to each other in their early years of marriage. They share their continuing struggles candidly. At the same time, both affirm that their marriage has been transformed under the love and grace of God.

Part One argues about the need to develop friendships via the acronym FRIENDS, which stands for:

  • F = Fruitful; R=Reciprocal; I=Intimate; E=Enjoyable; N=Needed; D=Devoted; S=Sanctifying.
Mark devotes one chapter as a man to men while Grace provides a chapter to share from a women's perspective. It concludes with a call to take out the trash of bitterness, to adopt a sense of personal repentance, and to seek mutual forgiveness.

Part Two addresses all readers to ponder on whether they are seeing sex as a 'god' in itself, a gross act, or a gift of God. The authors challenge the reader to move from disgrace to grace, from the waywardness of lust through pornography, from selfish lovers to servant lovers, and the bold chapter called, 'Can we....?' This is the much talked-about chapter that covers taboo topics like masturbation, oral sex, anal sex, sex toys, to other debatable areas like birth control, cosmetic surgery, and even cybersex! 

Part Three is a chapter that sets forth a plan for action. This important chapter argues against reactionary, conformity, or independent rebellion against God's will for marriages. It encourages readers to adopt an intentional approach of obedience, and a holy purposeful passion.

Closing Thoughts

Contrary to what some hype suggests, this book is not as 'controversial' as I thought. Bold yes. Controversial, not quite. While many are talking about the taboo topics raised in the book, I feel that the value of the book lies in the overall shape of discussion. By admitting their own struggles, the Driscolls are inviting people to share in the journey of openness and recovery together. Their teachings on marriage and sex come from their wealth of experience as pastors and counselors. If I were to fault the book, I feel that Part Three appears rather short and disjointed from the rest of the book. For such an important chapter, it requires more researched and arguments rather than a few pages that look more like a laundry list of to-do pointers. While the other chapters contain double digit citations, Part Three has only 2! Perhaps an additional chapter can be added to give more facts and figures about the re-engineering process. Maybe another book can be written to complement this book.

This is a fresh voice to an old topic. It is highly readable and I warmly recommend this book for all readers, both married and unmarried.

Ratings: 4.5 stars of 5.


"Advanced Reader's Copy of the book has been provided courtesy of Thomas Nelson and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc. Available at your favourite bookseller from Thomas Nelson".


  1. he Driscoll's discuss topics in the book that I haven't found in many Christian marriage books that I have read. They can be very vague and really beat around the bush when it comes to topics that should and need to be discussed about marriage. I loved how each topic, and really the whole book, was centered around the Bible and brought out specific texts to back up what they were discussing. LOVED this.

    1. @Danmark, you are quite right about Driscoll being direct and pointed in his arguments. He does not mince his words. That said, I will not go as far as to brandish other books as 'beat around the bush.' The different marriage books have their own particular orientation and way of explaining their points. We should not take away credit due to them. It is still possible to appreciate Driscoll's book and at the same time, maintain a respectful stance of other marriage books.

      Thanks for commenting.