"Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen." Ephesians 4:29
Monday, January 30, 2012
Real Marriage: The truth about sex, friendship, & life together
When I first requested Real Marriage, I really had no idea that it had stirred up so much controversy among Christian circles and beyond, I just thought it might be something good to consider for marriage enrichment with couples in our church. While this review is primarily for the DVD-based study, I also read the book to help me get a better grasp of all of the material there. So first, the content...the first "big idea" in the book is, in my opinion, the best one: Marriage as Friendship. This section includes five chapters, with one chapter addressed specifically to the men and one to the women readers. There are many who will take issue with the complementarian views for which Driscoll is well-known. While I don't agree entirely with every opinion or emphasis that is presented, there is still much that can be learned from each of these chapters in loving and respecting one another. The second part of the book moves to more a more provocative topic: Sex. There are five chapters here as well, including one where the Song of Solomon is used as a reference for determining what activities are "allowed" or "beneficial". If you are having questions in your marriage of how to set healthy boundaries in this area, then you would probably benefit from the material here. However, if you tend to be uncomfortable with frank discussion of ALL types of sexual expression, you may want to skip it. The part of the book that rocked my world the most was a short little section tucked in chapter 10, addressing birth control. While I won't unpack it here, it challenged me to really apply some convictions on the value of human life in ways that I had never considered. Finally, the last part of the book gets very practical in helping couples to "reverse engineer" their marriage so that the focus is on how you want your marriage to end...setting goals and formulating a plan together. This was only one chapter of the book, and I would like to have read more. I think the DVD study would be a good tool to expand on this and other material in the book. The study includes a 143-page participant's guide, which has lots of material for couples to invest in their relationship, through questions and activity suggestions. The videos are okay... Mark and Grace sitting in the church where they were married and discussing (mostly to one another) the material in the book. Each session covers a chapter, with eleven 10- to 15-minute sessions. If you are a fan of Mark Driscoll's, you will love it. If you are a hater, you will hate it. For those of us in between, just looking for a good tool to enrich our marriage...there's a lot of good material here. It is not the best book on marriage that is out there, but there is much in the book and DVD study that is unique and useful to improve marriages.