(Photo: Mars Hill via The Christian Post)
Mark Driscoll sat down with CNN's Piers Morgan on Friday to discuss his latest book on marriage, but the conversation was overwhelmingly focused specifically on sex.
"There's a lot of sex in this book," Morgan told Driscoll, who is the founding pastor of Mars Hill Church in Seattle. Driscoll acknowledged that about half of Real Marriage: The Truth About Sex, Friendship, & Life Together, which he wrote with his wife, Grace, focuses on sex, but said the other half focuses on marriage as a friendship.
Still, Morgan pressed him, saying that Driscoll moves into the topic of sex unusually fast for "a man of cloth."
"I think if you're married you should enjoy one another, and it helps to safeguard the marriage from all kinds of problems," said Driscoll.
When asked if he had sex before marriage, Driscoll said he had.
"I did and I was wrong," he said. "I had sex until I became a Christian. I became a Christian at age 19. And I'd be the first to say I'm not trying to throw stones at people or pretend that I've done it all right. I was sexually active, and then I became a Christian and [while] reading the Bible realized I shouldn't be sexually active, so I stopped."
They also discussed the role of women in a marriage relationship. Morgan said Driscoll's conservative views of women were "surprising" and "contentious," because he thought Driscoll believed that a woman should have sex with her husband any time he wants, but Driscoll set the record straight.
"I don't believe that ... what we say is that a couple should serve one another, love one another in the context of friendship and that means sometimes he serves her, that means sometimes she serves him, and that's really the context of the friendship in and out of the bedroom," he said, adding that it is "abusive" for a man to boss his wife around.
Morgan also pointed to Roman Catholic teachings against the use of contraception, and asked Driscoll what he thought about the issue. Driscoll, who was Catholic earlier in his life, said he doesn't view contraception the same way as Catholics do.
"I hold a more Protestant position that contraception is not always sinful ... For me, honestly, it goes back to the Bible, and I'm trying to look at biblical principles and be faithful to the Scriptures. And for me, I couldn't have become a priest because the vow of lifelong celibacy wouldn't have really worked for me, and so I don't see contraception as necessarily sinful in all cases."
Real Marriage was released on Jan. 3 and was almost immediately met with a wave of criticism from Christians and non-Christians alike.
Tim Challies, a Christian blogger and pastor of Grace Fellowship Church in Toronto, Ontario, said on his website that he wouldn't even want his wife reading some of the descriptions of sexual acts in the book for her own "protection."
"As others have noted, the book focuses so much on sex that it can create the impression that it's the most important element of marriage," Christian author Rachel Held Evans wrote in a blog post about the book, in which she also stated that Driscoll has an "alarming preoccupation with sex and 'masculinity.'"
At the end of January, Driscoll published a response to his critics on CNN's Belief Blog in which he explains why he wrote the book in what he describes as a frank, practical way.
"Our culture has made the wrong answers about sex far easier to find than the church has made the right answers to find," he said. He later added, "If ministry leaders don't address these issues in some way, we're religious cowards who do a disservice to our church."
Real Marriage reached the top spot on The New York Times Best Seller list in January. Driscoll supplemented the teachings in his book by preaching an 11-week sermon series on marriage (nine weeks have been completed), by offering free resources through his website and by teaching during the 10-city Real Marriage Tour, which still has a few more stops before it is finished.