Stirred up about Sex: Curious about the Heart Behind “Real Marriage”
“We did have mediocre sex that eventually resulted in five children and one miscarriage.” 
Include a line like this in your introductory chapter, and you’ll likely perk up some ears and some curiosity. Especially if your audience consists of “Evangelical” Christians.
But, real life confessions, biographical descriptions, and frank honesty on some of (especially “Christian”) cultures most feared taboos, pretty much summarizes the mission of Mark and Grace Driscoll’s new (and as always, provocative) new book: Real Marriage: The Truth About Sex, Friendship & Life Together.
For those of you wanting a careful and collected review of the book, I can’t do better than Tim Challies. For those who look at this opportunity to add their justification to add some metaphorical slugs to the “Mark Driscoll” punching bag, you can read Rachel Held Evan’s review , along with her input on what is appropriate pasturing and her response to statements Driscoll has made outside of the book at other times in the past. For a review that tries to blow fire on the exciting contention by describing the unsettlement the book is causing to keep the story alive, the Christian Post and CNN.
Although the book draws much criticism, I can summarize the push- “ahem”- feedback the Driscoll’s are receiving as directed at two subjects of the book: a) the appropriateness of the Driscoll’s transparency about the struggles and lessons learned in their own sexual, marital, and ministry lives, and b) the Driscoll’s approach for addressing “taboo” sexual sins in their chapter titled “Can We_____?”
Today, I’m not hoping to write a review of the book. I’m also not trying to offer exegetical rebuttals to areas of disagreement I have with the Driscolls (and I have some).
What I am hoping to express are my thoughts on the “intent” of the book, and the accuracy of the Driscoll’s diagnosis that there needs to be resources (such as there’s) written to meet the demand for honest, pastoral, and Bible based efforts to answer questions about, well…sex.
While I find many of the criticisms fired at Real Marriage to at the least have some truth to them, I can tell you this: reading the most attacked chapters of the book, I did not in any way find the book to be:
1) Vividly grotesque simply for the sake of inducing a shock factor,
2) Seeking to provide biographical answers on subjects that every pastor needs to be carefully self-evaluating in their lives, and which they need to have a prepared story to share from when ministering to their flocks,
3) Addressing questions that not only Mars Hill attendants, but probably the vast majority of young people (and if Driscoll’s statistics are only halfway right, most older adults), are inwardly yearning to ask and to sincerely seek answers from their shepherds.
For many young believers, The Act of Marriage doesn’t quite cover all the questions that “we” have about the matters of marriage and intercourse. For this reason, I find the Driscoll’s heart behind their effort in this book to be most commendable, as I believe they have identified a problem in the church (the need for a biblical perspective on marriage) as well as a needed solution (readable and accessible popular level book that gives answers to questions from “are sex toys permissible for use in marriage?” or “what forms of sex are acceptable ways to seek to please and to thus serve my spouse?”
And although I agree with many that the editorial work of the book is quite sloppy (although, isn’t the publisher to blame for that one?), the tone of the book is in no way written simply to cause contention. In fact, I find both the biographical and statistical/ explanatory sections to both be prefaced with cautions and sensitivities to who may be reading this.
So, would I recommend this book to someone in my church with questions about sex? Is Real Marriage the solution? Well… not as a recommended pick. But as something I wouldn’t forbid, but might challenge someone to read who is actually willing to interact and evaluate one Christian leader’s position with a gospel, missional, and biblical grid? I could see this book being a good exercise, as it does seek to answer questions that real people are really asking.
But what I want to go on record saying is that Real Marriage is a step in the right direction, the direction that seeks to identify a deep hole in the blanket of pastor counsel and care. It is a step that, from what I can tell in evaluating the Driscoll’s heart, is initiated by their love for the church, and a love for God’s creation of marriage. And lastly it is a step that hopefully stirs some pastors and churches to consider if they are in fact making themselves approachable and helpful in addressing the difficulties and experiences about sex that their increasingly post-modern congregations are finding themselves wrestling with.
 Real Marriage, 15.
 Again, for those curious, thinking “what taboos, in our sex saturated culture could he possibly be talking about that are drawing so much attention?” read the links above.
 I believe Tim Challies, who is quickly becoming one of my favorite book reviewers, addresses the most critical issues here (http://www.challies.com/book-reviews/real-marriage-can-we), and here (http://www.reformation21.org/blog/2011/12/no-sex-please-im-british.php)/ (http://media.sermonaudio.com/mediapdf/417091244255.pdf), the last two ironically coming from others whose style makes you wonder if they too like to throw in shock factor into the Western church just to raise some hairs from time to time.