|EDITOR'S NOTE: Daniel Akin is president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, N.C.
WAKE FOREST, N.C. (BP) -- Early this year Thomas Nelson released the book "Real Marriage: The Truth About Sex, Friendship and Life Together" by Mark and Grace Driscoll. The book immediately became a best seller as well as a topic of spirited conversation and debate. Some loved it and others hated it. Few, however, were neutral in their opinion, regardless of whether they had read the book.
I was asked, along with my wife Charlotte, to read the book before publication and consider providing an endorsement. We read it and, after talking it over, agreed to give a "qualified" endorsement as long as none of the wording was changed. That request was honored and so the endorsement appears as follows:
"Real Marriage is brutally and sometimes painfully honest. Further, it is frank and direct in addressing a number of important marital issues. Sometimes you probably will feel uncomfortable. And, you may not agree with everything Grace and Mark Driscoll say. We didn't. However, this is a book we will gladly use and recommend to others who care about healthy, biblical marriages. We believe both husbands and wives will be blessed by and benefit from its content. Grace and Mark are to be commended for writing a book that bares their souls and, more importantly, points to the redeeming power of the gospel in the sacred covenant called marriage."
A few of my friends have asked me a couple of questions: 1) Why did you endorse the book knowing, or at least suspecting, it could be controversial? 2) Exactly what is it that you disagree with in the book?
Those are fair and good questions and so let me respond to both.
First, why did we endorse the book? We did so because we believe it powerfully demonstrates the redeeming power of the gospel in healing broken and troubled marriages. Opening chapters such as "Friends with Benefits" (ch. 3), "Men and Marriage" (ch. 4) and "The Respectful Wife" (ch. 5) would be helpful and valuable to anyone seeking a biblical framework for their marriage The book is clear in its complementarian understanding of what the Bible teaches about gender roles, and it affirms that God ordained only heterosexual, monogamous sex within the covenant of marriage.
Mark and Grace also are brutally honest about the baggage they brought into their marriage, but then testify to how God has brought wholeness, joy and blessing as they confessed and repented of sin, sought and extended forgiveness, and more faithfully embraced God's role assignment for a husband and a wife. I strongly suspect thousands of couples will be helped and given hope for their own marriages, especially if they have walked a path similar to Mark or Grace.
We also thought the chapter on Sex as God's gift (ch. 6) and the chapter on the dangers and destructive nature of pornography (ch. 8) were valuable and well done. I could go on but let me simply say that we found a great deal of good in the book and believed and still believe it will help many couples find fulfillment in their marriages and glorify God in the process.
Second, exactly what do you disagree with in the book? There are several things I can share here and I am glad to do so. I am also thankful that as I share where I disagree with my friend Mark, I know he will receive it from a brother who loves him, and that it will not harm or negatively impact our friendship one whit! This is how Christian brothers and sisters should relate to each other.
Mark's "vision" of seeing sexual sin makes me very uncomfortable. I am not sure what to make of it, and it concerns me that he seems to have these revelations in an ongoing kind of way. I have never had such a vision, first of all. I acknowledge that may say something about me. Further, I am not sure there is any real value in sharing things like this in a public venue, even if they are true. Some things are often best left unsaid. I believe that is the case here. Continued...