Here’s an unusual blog post for you to end 2011. A book review.
Let me begin with a bit of context…
This can’t possibly be a unbiased review. I was introduced to the books and sermons of Mark Driscoll by a great friend of mine around 5 years ago while I was wrestling with God’s plan for my life. I know he can be a polarizing figure for many, but his honesty, passion, and penchant for being unorthodox instantly endeared him to me. I can’t explain how much his book Confessions of a Reformission Reverend influenced me in my journey toward church planting. Since I have read most of his books and still enjoy his sermons regularly, when I got the chance to do a pre-release review on his newest book, I was very excited.
Real Marriage, a book by Mark and his wife Grace, will be released on January 3rd. It is a very personal book that looks at issues they have faced not only in counseling thousands of couples, but also in their own marriage. Having read many other books on these topics, I was simply expecting this book to cover a lot of very familiar territory in a biblical and relevant way. After reading the book, I got a whole lot more than I bargained for.
Here’s a few things that make Real Marriage a unique and helpful book for all married or engaged couples:
1) Messiness. Mark and Grace are both incredibly transparent with the personal and relational struggles of their marriage. Many marriage books are written by ‘Experts’ and essentially play out like fairy tales. Mark and Grace frequently show their weakness and how the work of Jesus in their lives has sustained and transformed their relationship.
2) Friendship. I am so thankful that this book deals with friendship as much as it does romance. The Driscolls explain that after reading well over 100 books on the topic of marriage, they were horrified that the issue of friendship is continually neglected. As someone who was lucky enough to marry my best friend, I am particularly convinced that we must make friendship with our spouse one of our highest priorities.
3) Risky (but not Risque’). This book tries to clearly address issues that a new generation of Christians have only seen their churches tiptoe around. This is one of the reasons that Mark is such a polarizing figure-many people who are deeply entrenched in the ‘Christian’ sub-culture may not understand why he often discusses things that seem scandalous. Having read the book, I will tell you that there are some topics that would make many people blush, but nothing is handled in a way that is indecent or shameful. Instead, they boldly answer real questions that have been avoided by many Christian authors until now.
4) Application. Several chapters are devoted to helping the reader to think about their life with helpful questionnaires. An incredibly detailed get to know your spouse questionnaire would be a helpful and enlightening tool that every fiance’ should be very interested in. And anyone who is about to make big life decisions should work through the ‘Reverse-engineering your life’ chapter as soon as possible. The book does a great job of forcing you to apply these concepts to your own life.
5) Conviction. Men and women will be challenged and convicted as this book takes a hard look at our common and specific struggles. Selfishness, lust, shame, dishonesty, and greed are just a few of the ugly things you’ll need to confront as you are reminded just how un-marriable you are. Thankfully, the worst of us can find hope and restoration in Jesus.
There’s a lot more I could say about this book, but suffice it to say that I would highly recommend it. I am sure that I will be leading many couples through it as they approach marriage in the future. I hope that the chapters about men’s and women’s issues will help me to be a better pastor. I believe that reading this book is already helping me to be not just a better husband, but a better follower of Christ.
If you have any questions or comments about the book, please feel free to let us know in the comments section below!