Thursday, January 5, 2012

real marriage

I thought long & hard about whether or not I'd write a review on this book. I'm trying to settle down the energizer in me and not "stir the pot" as often as I do. I have a lot of people on my blog roll & twitter feed that despise Mark Driscoll. The last thing I wanted was them to have ammo against me and try and get in a 144 character debate with them. But here I am ((and i will not debate with you via twitter)).

I wondered why I felt the need to defend him, and so that I can be completely honest with my bias, I will say: We are planting a church with Acts29. Acts29 is a network of church planters that was founded by Mark Driscoll. I guess that's why I feel so defensive when people attack his character, his heart, & his books/sermons. 

I will also say that I used to really dislike Mark Driscoll. I haven't agreed with many of the things he has preached about in the past, the way he did it, or the manner in which his tone reflected (in my wrong opinion) pride. There was one thing he said (that is not worth mentioning) that put a bad taste in my mouth and so my opinion of him was low. Unfortunately, this is what happens when you are a pastor who is often in the media and that is preaching truth that comes straight from the Bible. People start to cling to ONE thing you've done wrong and completely write you off, which is what many are doing with this book. 

Not okay, Christians. Get over yourselves. 

However, once I actually started listening to more of his sermons, once I listened to him speak live a couple of times, read this book, and read a prayer that he sent to the Acts 29 churches regarding the book,  I started to see that he was a just a man who never claimed perfection, to know everything, or to have it all together. I saw Mark Driscoll as a man who wanted the best for Christians, the best for marriages, and the best for God's children. He is equipped and called to pastor and is using his gifts honorably and boldly. 


Let me start with this quote, 

"We do believe it can be used of God to help people, which is why we wrote it." 

They did not write this book to make money. In fact, they gave away thousands of copies and sold many at cost (I only bought mine for $10, which means they got zero profit from it).  They did not write this book to become famous. They wrote this book with a heart to help Christian marriages. The end. 

I'm not going to go through every chapter and say what I agreed and disagreed with. I'm tired of bloggers doing that and taking snippets of the book out of context to say, "Pastors are not qualified to be sex therapists," ((last time I checked they never claimed to be))  "his admittal of mistakes & sins disqualify him for marriage," ((because that's obviously the gospel ::sarcasm::)) etc. 

However, my overall review of the book is this:
We live in a culture that generally doesn't take the vows they make on their wedding day seriously. 
We live in a culture that is constantly worshipping idols (i.e., money, food, sex, material things, spouses) rather than God.
We live in a culture in which the divorce rate is way too high.
We live in a culture that is sex-crazed and more open with sexuality than ever.
In this type of culture that we are surrounded by, I believe that, as Christians, this book can absolutely speak to the heart of most issues in marriage and help us evaluate our own marriages to better glorify God.

Gary Thomas said it well in his book, Sacred Marriage, when he challenged us with the question, "What If God Designed Marriage to Make Us Holy More Than to Make Us Happy?"

I appreciate SO much that Real Marriage claims that other than Jesus & the gospel, a marriage should be based on friendship. I agree 100% that if you aren't best friends with your spouse, you aren't enjoying marriage to it's fullness.  I loved the Fruitful Reciprocal Intimate Enjoyable Needed Devoted acronym used and the further explanation of each of those & how we can be better spouses by dwelling on the scripture that supports those.

 I was also pleased to see the importance of grace, forgiveness, and repentance talked about in such detail, with scripture to back it all up. 

This was one of my favorite snippets on this subject:

Conflict is inevitable and can actually be good. Some of the times I've grown the most is when I've disagreed with Chase on something and I had to seek wisdom from others, the Word, and prayer. 

I appreciated Mark's call to the fellas to be better men. He challenges the guys to put down their game controllers, grow up, get involved in a good church, and lead their families well. 

Honestly, I could have done without Chapter 10 in it's entirety, which is the bulk of what has been so controversial. There were SEVERAL things I disagreed with in this chapter from his interpretation of scripture (but I'm no theologian or scholar or expert) to the things he was essentially condoning. What I DID appreciate was him challenging readers who are struggling with these questions to one, make sure it didn't go against their or their spouse's convictions and two, ask 
Is it lawful?
Is it helpful?
Is it enslaving?

Even though I didn't find this chapter helpful or enjoyable, I do hope that this chapter gives people freedom on what to say "yes" or "no" to. 

The Respectful Wife chapter is another blog post for another time, but I will say, respect & submission is a two way street and I learned a LOT from this chapter. 

Bottom line, Mark & Grace discuss their sinful pasts freely and without shame. They are honest, their sin has been forgiven and they are trying to use their pasts to help others live the most fruitful marriage possible. You can't knock them for that. They don't need me to defend them, but I hope that you can read this book to help your marriage succeed, be the best spouse you can, and fall more in love with each other  & with Jesus together


Try saving on Real Marriage with this Barnes and Noble coupon.


  1. I appreciate you stepping out to review this! I live in the Seattle area and have attended MH before. During that period my husband was not a believer so it made it VERY hard to attend for us. We found another awesome church that is better for people who are new to faith (in fact, because of our new church my husband was baptized this summer!!).

    I did however enjoy a lot of Mark's teachings and have a ton of friends at MH so I may have to check out this book.

  2. i live in seattle and the whole mh, mark driscoll thing is huge and exhausting to be honest. i appreciate his heart and really respect his call to men b/c statistically men are less likely to be christians, attend church, etc.

    the beauty of many churches is that there are multiple pastors, multiple places to get your fill, mars hill is one of them and it may not be for everyone. in fact, after three years of attendance in its earlier stages, i discovered it wasn't for me.

    however, i recognize mark's gift for teaching, his love for Christ and I respect him for that. He is not God nor does he claim to be. No pastor should claim that or claim to know everything and no pastor should be the sole reason/basis for one's faith.

    yes, he's controversial but God is controversial. And Mark starts the conversation about faith and Jesus-- conversations we all should be having more often.

    thanks, Kim, for the tidbits about the book and your explanations. :)

  3. Thanks for posting. My husband and I really enjoy Driscoll. We'd love to attend his church some time but we're all the way over in North Florida so don't see that happening anytime soon. :-)

    We've pre-ordered the book and are waiting for it to arrive. He recently shared a tweet that read, “Christian marriage is reciprocal acts of covenant love.” Love that!

    Thanks again for posting. Can't wait to read it myself!

  4. Thanks for posting--I can't wait to read this! My church is part of Acts 29 and I love Mark Driscoll's teaching and passion for the gospel. Thanks for sharing!

  5. Kim, I just want to say that I really appreciate the way you handle things on your blog. I don't always agree with you, especially on religious topics, but I really love the way you approach those posts. You're honest, not condemning, and unapologetic.

    I know some people have said nasty things in the comments (and I'm sure you've deleted a few), and I wanted to tell you to keep saying these things. It's your blog. You can say what you want (isn't that the point?). Nobody forces anyone to read what you write and nasty people should be ashamed of themselves. We're all in this world together and it's ridiculous that people think they can take one opinion or snippet and magically know everything about you, and what's more, that it's their job to criticize you for it. It's your life, and it's not open for internet debate.

    Thank you for the review, and the way you've approached it!

  6. Good post! I'm not familiar with Mark, but I'll check him out! Thanks!

  7. I am always so thankful for the way that you cover such a wide range of topics on your blog: sewing/crafts, fashion, marriage, church planting, the Gospel. Thanks for being a real person that writes about real things.

    Also, thanks for this post. I've seen so many unnecessary, super nitpicky conversations with people ranting about a single paragraph or chapter. I'm encouraged by your review of the book as a whole. Hubs and I will definitely have to grab a copy.

  8. I'm not married. Nor do I plan on it anytime soon, unless God decides that it'd be a good idea to marry this sixteen year old off...BUT. I really want to read this book for preparation....haha.

    AND. Mark Driscoll is a really cool pastor - I think he has a lot of really great things to say, but inevitably he's going to make mistakes like It irritates me when people expect a pastor to be perfect. Dear me.

    Okay, I'm done now :) Loved this post :)

  9. Lauren's comment really hit home with me, and I wanted to share that. I'm not a Christian, but I find so much to appreciate and enjoy in your blog that it doesn't stop me from visiting, and never makes me feel uncomfortable. Your open, honest writing fills me with such respect for you, and makes helps break down some negative views I may have held.

  10. thanks for writing an honest review about this book. as i said the other day, i attend MH in seattle and am so thankful for a pastor who shares his life so openly and honestly - and preaches straight out of the bible. i really appreciate that while you dont agree with everything that he says, you dont turn that against him and you still speak respectfully of him, which is what i think we all should do with pastors who love Jesus, preach his word and encourage others to live lives all about Jesus - even if we dont always agree with things that they say.

    i have really been enjoying your blog lately - thanks for being so real.

  11. I've actually been looking for some good bible-based marriage books to sink my teeth into over the next year. Thank you for sharing this one =) And I couldn't agree more that it is heartbreaking to see Christians pounce on somebody's shortcomings and miss out on the good things they have to say.

  12. Great job Kim. I loved your post and am proud to have you and your hubby along side us as we plant The Well.

    I also wanted to be the first dude to comment. : )

  13. I love and adore Sacred Marriage. The concepts in it make the "not just happy, but holy" take on marriage so practical and remoes the abstraction that can come so often in Christian literature.

    I haven't read anything of Mark Driscoll's but I did just order the book on Amazon because of your review.

    I realize that people, myself probably the worst, read what Christians write and assume because they are writing on a given topic, say forgiveness, the author is perfect at forgiving. So not the case. As is seen in the Bible. Paul wrote from a jail cell, Matthew was a tax collector, and John and Peter fisherman... There was nothing special about them, but that Jesus loved them.

    I pray that Christians can set down their stones and embrace one another, public figure or not, mistakes and all, out of God's love and grace to us. Then we can be examples of God's goodness and glory!

  14. Dear Kim,

    I am so thankful you were willing to share your blog with me the other day when we were at Anthro. Your blog is lovely, and I appreciate you opening your heart and being authentic. I am saddened to hear that there are people choosing to write hurtful comments and that you are the receiver of them. Continue to be real -- this is your blog and your right. You do it with such grace. Not many people are brave enough to be authentic. You are. One of my favorite verses is Rom. 8:37 -- In all these things I am more than a conqueror through You who love me. Hugs, Tina

  15. I listen to him often. Great review I am really excited about reading this book.

  16. The sooner he is caught in a sex scandal , the better

  17. Cool!! thanks for sharing your honest thoughts on this book! Sounds awesome!!! I always love hearing about new marriage books. I love that little snippet you shared too about repentance and forgiveness- brilliant!

  18. anonymous - the sooner your mom is caught in a sex scandal, the better.

  19. I just found your blog "this year" and have enjoyed it tremendously already. I appreciate your honest review of this book especially amidst all the controversy.
    We also attend an Acts29 church and we've never been happier.

  20. Hey Kim, I've been somewhat curious about the book and even asked him for a copy to give away on my blog (just posted a marriage book giveaway today) but I never heard back from him. Though, I don't fault him for that...he doesn't know me...just thought I'd share some other great marriage books if your readers are interested.

    I've had a hard time with Mark in the last year or so, but I appreciate your review and your encouragement to read this book with the understanding that's he's imperfect just like me.

    What's hard is the power that men in roles like his wield. So, if it was just Mark, a man, I probably wouldn't take issue, but he's Mark, the pastor, and right or wrong people will put him on a pedestal.

    On your recommendation, I WILL read the book. Thanks again for sharing your thoughts!

  21. Sex sells and that's what going to sell this book.
    I'm not anti-Mark Driscoll but there are a lot of people who are. The vibe I received from your post was mostly a "defense of MD." You yourself even say you didn't like him for a while but bash people who have an opinion or view on him much like you probably once had. Aren't blogs for voicing opinion and viewpoints? Some people haven't made it to the point you have. In the case of this book-I'll pass. Chapter 10 is one I don't think I need to read-it could put unnecessary ideas in one's (my) mind.

  22. Kim, I will agree with some of the other posters. I do not believe in god, but appreciate your courage to be honest and share what you're so passionate about on your blog. It's terrible that other people have to leave comments intended to hurt you rather than just discuss points you've brought up on your OWN blog. I've not had much reason to share views on religion on my own blog, but have deleted sentences a few times that alluded to my atheism in fear that I would be criticized. Blogging is such a tight community and never wanted to cause any ripples. My point is, keep doing what you do. Your blog is wonderful and honesty is awesome, right? :)

  23. Ok, I follow you on twitter- kind of a new follower to your blog. I can already tell I like you (from your twitter posts) I am going to buy this book and read it- I love that you keep it real! LOVE IT!!!

  24. Kim, thanks for sharing your thoughts on the Driscoll's new book. Mark reminds me a little of the Apostle Peter - he can be outspoken and sometimes put his foot in his mouth but this stems from the zeal he has for Jesus. Sure, he's not perfect, but the nay-sayers need to give him props for being fervent and dedicated to Jesus in spite of the criticism he sometimes faces.

    I want to pick up Real Marriage and take a look at it as well - loved reading your thoughts. Scripture gives us great guidelines, but it's really helpful to read about real, modern-day couples sharing practical, biblically-based principles that have helped them enrich their marriage to better glorify Christ.

  25. My husband and I actually started this book last week and we have really enjoyed it! Thanks for posting about it.

  26. i used to not like pastor mark either based on something i heard someone say HE said... taken way out of context, of course. about five years later i ended up going reading his reformation rev. book, attending mars hill for year, getting married by one of MH's elders and now go to an acts 29 church in AZ. i haven't read this book yet, but i am going to the conference next month and i can't wait!


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