The newest book from controversial pastor Mark Driscoll, Real Marriage: The Truth About Sex, Friendship, and Life Together, hit book stores Tuesday and, following months of anticipation, had instant sales success on some of the top book-selling websites on the Internet.
The book, which Driscoll coauthored with his wife, Grace, reached the top spot on the list of bestselling books for both Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com for a while on Monday despite not being available in stores until Tuesday.
Real Marriage takes a look at topics that Christians are often afraid to ask their pastors, and that pastors are often afraid to address. The book is divided into three sections – “Marriage,” “Sex” and “The Last Day” – the last of which includes a “big homework assignment” which “turns the principles of the book into plans for your life and marriage,” Driscoll wrote in his blog Tuesday.
The Driscolls expose some of their own sins in the book, and also address the roles of both men and women in marriage relationships and talk bluntly about topics relating to sexuality (such as sexual abuse, pornography and sexual activities that are permissible in a marriage relationship).
“My wife Grace and I have taken the biggest risk of our ministry life together and written what may be the most brutally honest, controversial, and – we pray by God’s grace – helpful marriage book on the market,” Driscoll wrote in his blog.
In preparation for putting the book together, the Driscolls studied at least part of 187 different books on marriage, most of which were not written in a way they approved of.
“Most were way too tame, written to answer the questions of previous generations with very different questions, written mainly for women in a way that would be off-putting for most husbands (complete with covers that included sunset walks on the beach), inaccessible for singles who are now the majority of adults in the U.S., and lacking nearly any real honesty from the author about the sinful painful parts of his or her own life, as if marriage were a picnic without any ants,” Driscoll said.
The Driscolls also have plans to travel to 10 different U.S. cities this year as part of The Real Marriage Tour, in which they will lead marriage conferences based off of the book.
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Bob Coy, pastor of Calvary Chapel in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., says his church decided to host one of The Real Marriage Tour's stops in March after he read Driscoll's book.
"In reading Real Marriage I felt that it was timely and very, very applicable because it dealt with subject matter that sometimes is not being dealt with, especially for 20-somethings,” Coy told The Christian Post on Tuesday.
Much of the content that can be found on the Internet and in movies takes away from nuclear family and biblical marriage values, Coy said, and marriage needs to be more clearly defined in our culture, especially for younger generations.
"I think the state of marriage in our country is both fractured and splintered,” he said. “There is still a group, albeit it is getting smaller all the time, that understands the biblical and scriptural mandate for a healthy and holy and happy marriage. But I think that we have seen a decay in the last 10 years, in my opinion, more so than ever before."
Although the book is being promoted as having the answers to questions people are afraid to ask their pastors, Coy said pastors are also afraid to address some of the issues that Driscoll tackles in it.
“People tend to think of pastors like kids think of their parents,” he said. “They want to believe that we have a good sexual relationship, but they don't want to know anything more about it. Everyone's convinced I've had sex at least twice, because I have two kids, but they don't want to know about something that's just uncomfortable for them, which creates the uncomfortability for the communicator."
Other pastors, he noted, use sermons about sex for the sake of “shock value,” which backfires when “sex becomes the focus, rather than relationship.” Coy pointed out that Driscoll's book establishes foundational keys to marriage – such as honor, kindness, mercy and understanding – before dealing with sexual issues, making it a much more balanced approach.
Real Marriage is Driscoll's first book published through Christian publisher Thomas Nelson. In addition to the 10-city tour, he is also supplementing the content of the book with an 11-week sermon series at his church, Mars Hill Church in Seattle, and is offering free resources at his website, PastorMark.tv.