In this third post on the Driscoll’s book Real Marriage, I’d like to take a look at their chapters that focus on sex. They are at once theological and graphic. The level of depth with which they discuss sexual intimacy, while not unheard of in the evangelical world, is certainly notable for such a mainstream book. For some, this can be a little worrisome.
In general, I feel that his chapters in this area quite acceptable and don’t cross any lines of propriety. What are we going to do, after all, stick our heads under rocks? As a pastor to young adults in the Seattle area, Driscoll deals with various (and real) questions about sex all the time. Surely discussing them openly on a national level is a healthy thing.
Framing this discussion of sex is a chapter entitled “Sex: God, Gross, or Gift?” Within, Driscoll helpfully rejects our culture’s elevation of sex as the supreme goal to be achieved even as he strongly attacks the pervasive Christian notion that sex is in itself “dirty” or sinful. As a good gift of God, sex is meant to be enjoyed within marriage.
Other chapters in the “Sex” section of the book include a frank and must-read discussion of the destructive “Porn Path” that leads to so much brokenness for men and women alike, his wife’s discussion of sexual abuse, and direct talk about lovers being “selfish” or a “servant.” While Driscoll gets a little heavy-handed in the prescriptions he offers in the latter chapter, pairing his discussion with the Bible’s own erotic love song (Song of Songs) helps provide some context.
The last chapter of his sex discussion is potentially the most controversial. It is called “Can We_____?” In it, Driscoll addresses numerous sexual practices and behaviors (everything from masturbation to anal sex) and attempts to pastorally answer the question that frames the chapter. He asks three questions about each practice, and walks Christians through his answers: is it lawful, is it helpful, and is it enslaving? While sometimes bit of a mechanistic way to answer these questions, as a pastor I understand the need to help provide concrete advice for those who are asking. For believing readers, consider this chapter a real discussion starter as you work through your boundaries and perspectives in this area.
In closing, I have to reiterate: the Driscoll’s Real Marriage is just that: a frank and honest discussion of their marriage and the various marital situations they have had to reflect upon in their years in ministry. While I don’t agree with everything about their approach or conclusions, the book’s authenticity and directness make it a good choice for ministers wanting to help couples talk about such issues in pre-marital or marital counseling. I suspect, with some selective editing, that I might make use of the book in premarital counseling myself one day.