This is great. Paul Pastor and Kyle Rohane got it just right.
If only he could see that everything he argues here undermines his own position on abortion.
I have read many books about marriage, and Christians wrote most of them. I admit that I am not exceptionally fond of the genre. The shelf of marriage-help books in a Christian bookshop is sort of like Wikipedia. Anyone married can take a pen in his hand and give forth his advice on marriage, and buttress it with experience or with various biblical texts or (often) with both. So there are many really bad books on marriage out there, and then a few better tomes on the subject. Soon, I plan to review one of the better ones: This Momentary Marriage, by John and Noël Piper.
The sad book that is my subject today is not one of the better ones. In fact it is the worst book on marriage that I ever remember reading. It is called Real Marriage: The Truth about Sex, Friendship and Life Together, by Mark and Grace Driscoll. (No link added. I could not bring myself to do it). Mark is the pastor of Mars Hill Church, in Seattle, WA.
In reviewing the promotional material for the book I found great irony in Mark’s motivation for writing the book. In one piece, he said he wrote the book because, “There are enough lame books on marriage out there written by guys who would not dare talk about their own sin.” I found that ironic, because as I read the book, the emphasis was never on Mark’s sin – though he admitted to sinful behavior and attitudes. More than not, Mark portrayed himself the good guy. Not so for his wife. It takes a lot of guts for one to write a book detailing how bad one’s wife was, doesn’t it?
The book is not a book on marriage per se, though its authors billed it that way. The best way to categorize it is to say that it is almost half autobiography and a bit more than half a sex-help manual.
I plodded through the autobiographical section. While far from well-written, Mark does have a way with a phrase. He is never boring to read. He is upsetting at times, but never boring. One big issue that I have with this section has to do with Mark learning of an incident of his wife’s past sexual sin. It happened just after the two began their dating relationship. Mark admits that both of them had been sexually active in the past and that they brought sex into their relationship early on. The long and short of the story is that, while on a trip after high school, Grace had sex with someone else and never told Mark, then her current boyfriend, about it.
A few years later they married, and while expecting their first child Mark had a “revelation” while he slept in which he saw the act take place. In the morning, Grace admitted it to Mark and this rocked their already rocky marriage.
My beef with this testimony is that it is framed in a misleading way: Mark is the good guy and Grace sinned against him. He built up to this story with several pages of Mark refusing the advances of many young and beautiful women while dating Grace, though, as I said, he does admit to sexual sin before they began dating. So, in Mark’s view he was “faithful” to Grace, but she was not “faithful” to him. They both go so far as to say that Grace had sinned against Mark. And this is where I think they are off. Though the behavior was obviously sinful, Grace was not ‘bound’ in marriage to Mark or to anyone else. It was fornication, not adultery. Mark insists that he never would have married Grace if he knew about it, and that is fine. But Mark does not seem to factor into this that he himself was sexually sinning with Grace during this season as well. If pre-marital sex is cheating against one’s future spouse, Mark fails to note that they are both guilty and they both committed this sin before and during their dating relationship. Mark castigates Grace and overlooks his own sin. It is painful for me to read such immature and un-biblical conclusions, especially in a book that a pastor wrote.
The worst part is the explicit and bizarre section on sex (Part 2 of the book). The section is filled with terrible exegesis and silly and arbitrary posturing about details and subjects that are not meant to be discussed in public, let alone put into a book intended for Christians. It is also classic Mark Driscoll. He is in his zone when he is writing material meant to shock. He thinks it a sign of manliness and maturity to discuss frankly and openly matters that most pastors (including this one) would never discuss in public, let alone write about. On the contrary, I think it is another sign of troubling immaturity. Maybe even disqualifying immaturity.
Chapter 10 is called, Can We ___________? And the chapter gives just what the title seems to promise. The authors cover and comment on all things sex, and try to determine from biblical texts if certain acts are permissible and helpful. Mark and Grace go from pastor and pastor’s wife to research-based sexual therapists and back again many times, and it is difficult for me to understand how they felt themselves qualified to write this chapter, and how they envisioned it actually proving helpful.
This book is a best seller. There are several top-rate reviews and the majority are at least somewhat critical. Most reviews by Christian pastors and leaders are more charitable than I have been, and most try to find redeemable qualities about this book. My dilemma is that I can’t find anything to commend it. It is, to be very blunt, fit for the rubbish bin.
Don’t buy this book, please. Buy two lattes instead. That is a far better use of $9. And if one of them is for your spouse then it will be more helpful for your marriage too.
Never before in the history of the United States of America has an election represented such contrasting worldviews. The only one that came close was the race of 1860, when the question of slavery was front and center. Then, Americans elected a Republican, and one who was on the right side of history. I hope that they will do the same in 2012. I say that because of two massively important moral issues that are at the forefront today.
The two moral issues that dominate the national debate today are the definition of marriage and the rights of the unborn. On both of these, the Democratic National Platform has drawn its line in the sand; a line that is utterly at odds with the teachings of the Bible, and therefore, incompatible with true Christianity.
If you browse to democrats.org you can read their explicit positions on both of these issues. On the definition of marriage, the DNC has decided to champion the cause of the gay and lesbian lifestyle, and have come out of the closet in support of so-called gay marriage. Of course, they are buttressed by the fact that President Obama is the first US President to voice his support of “marital equality”.
The Bible calls homosexuality a sin (Romans 1.26-27) and teaches that marriage is a creation ordinance, and is between a man and a woman (Genesis 2.24). To say as much is not hate, as many on the left love to say. The Bible simply and clearly teaches this, and as a Christian I take my moral cues from the Bible, not the latest cultural fad.
Put frankly, the stand that the DNC and the current President have taken on marriage and sexuality is incompatible with biblical Christianity.
On President Obama’s re-election website, staffers call the Republican Platform intolerant and mean spirited. Why? Because of the Republican’s “anti-choice” stand; i.e., that the Republicans oppose abortion even in the case of rape and incest (ironically, the current Republican presidential candidate is on the record saying that he supports and exception in those cases). Of course, the DNC is not so concerned with abortion in the case of rape and incest – it is a tiny percentage of the abortions that occur in the USA (though I am still very much against abortion in those cases, since the baby has done nothing wrong). The DNC opposes all forms of restriction on “a woman’s reproductive rights.”
That is the immoral irony of the platform. They say they are for all the vulnerable demographics. They champion minority rights and workplace equality, etc. Yet, they are staunch in their belief that the most vulnerable demographic among us has no rights at all, not even the right to life. That trumps their supposed support of every other demographic, doesn’t it? They do not really support minority groups or the “underprivlidged” or the “working class”, or even women. I say that because they advocate killing members of all those demographics (potentially, in the case of the working class) while they are most defenseless – while they are still in the womb.
The Bible teaches that man is made in the image of God (Genesis 1.27). And the Bible forbids murder (Exodus 20.13). There is no compelling moral argument to support the crazy idea that killing a baby while he or she is in the womb is anything less than murder. Therefore, the DNC support of “reproductive rights” is incompatible with biblical Christianity.
I won’t lie. I disagree with the dems on a host of issues, moral and economic. Nevertheless, their stand on these two issues seals the deal for me. I hope American Christians will be Christian enough to stand up in November to vote Obama (and other democrat leaders who support the DN platform) out of office.
I read this book earlier this year, and I still think often of its content. This is an extremely well-written account of the exceptional life of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. In an age rife with mediocrity and complacency, Bonhoeffer’s unwillingness to compromise and his commitment to righteousness and to the true gospel stands out like a forest blaze against the the night sky. In the end, his was a commitment that cost him everything (I think that is beyond dispute, no matter how one views the specific decisions that led to Himmler’s execution order). But I think Bonhoeffer would argue that it did not really cost him, for to live is Christ, and to die is gain.
Metaxas’ retelling is skillful and interesting. He highlights many important insights from Bonhoeffer’s life and ministry. Bonhoeffer lived in far different times, but there are many parallels to today, and this book will prove helpful to the pastor or layman who wants to run the race without compromise.
Order it here from Amazon.com.