If you are older, from a highly conservative religious background, live far away from a major city, do not spend much time on the Internet, or do not have cable television, the odds are that you will want to read this chapter while sitting down, with the medics ready on speed dial.
I think the Driscolls were too nice. Instead of sitting down they should have recommended for you to just give the book to someone else who does not fit their description. Additionally, if you believe you have the spiritual gift of criticism, this book will give you too much ammunition. You won’t be able to handle all the ways you could criticize this book.
If you have heard negative things about this book, it is probably related to chapter 10. The people who criticize this chapter are most likely the people who were never meant to read this book. Do not read this book.
Please, make sure you read this book. Yes, there are many people who should, no, who need to read this book. Our culture is sexually messed up. Yes, many generations and many cultures throughout history treated sex in ways dishonoring to its Creator. Technology is being used today by many people to make fringe images, thoughts and behaviors mainstream.
Here is a quick non-exhaustive list of the people who need to read this book. If you: have been addicted to pornography; lived with your spouse before marriage; were sexually mistreated as a child; see women as sexual objects more than individual people; experimented with bi-sexuality; have been involved in sexting; do not see your spouse as attractive; struggle with how to live as a monogamous Christian in a sex-charged atmosphere; have had an abortion; admit to yourself that you struggle with lust; are ashamed of things you did before marriage; are having struggles in your marriage; have been divorced; are under the age of 30… If one or many of these things describe you than this book is definitely for you.
The Gospel does not change. The message is the same. The methods of teaching the Gospel, however, should always be contextualized. This is why every local church is gifted by the Holy Spirit with at least one teacher. This is why every good teacher will contextualize their messages to their audience. The Driscolls have written a book contextualized to a new generation desperately in need of God’s way forward. If you think marriages are in trouble today, imagine all these junior high kids with naked images of their girlfriend on their phone, getting married one day and trying to figure out how to have a God-honoring marriage. This is the book I will recommend to them.
The Driscolls surprised me by getting into quite a bit of Church history. They discuss several church fathers and then spend time having us learn from Martin Luther’s marriage and the unfortunate marriage of John Wesley. The Driscolls, additionally, spend a lot of the book using themselves as the positive and negative example. This will be refreshing for many post-Christians and postmoderns.
Chapter 10 is the chapter most people are talking about. The chapter is entitled, “Can we _____?” Yes, this chapter is very in-depth. I’ve never read 2 1/2 pages on anal sex and I don’t ever want to again. But I admire the way they discussed the sensitive issues in this book. Their tone was professional, biblical and medical. I felt like I was hearing a straightforward medical presentation of the biblical pros and cons of many issues couples might quietly discuss but never have the confidence or ability to actually ask an expert.
Yes, Mark Driscoll can be crass. There are a few times in the book where his crassness made me laugh. For example on page 153 where he is talking about pornography he states, “Sure, the naked people you like looking at are hot…but so is hell.” Come on, that’s concise, profound AND humorous in a weird way that made me laugh out loud. In chapter 10, however, where you expect him to go way over the line and not be a wise, tactful Christian leader, he is not crass. Some will disagree on his inclusion of some topics, but I found it hard to criticize the way he discussed the topics.
My biggest criticism with the book was actually with the last chapter on Reverse Engineering. I think the concept in the chapter could have been very helpful, but I felt the chapter was underdeveloped and out of place in this book. I’m familiar with Driscoll’s idea of “Reverse Engineering” your life. I’ve heard some great stories of how people have made major life changes due to reverse engineering. Someone knows exactly where they want to end up and then works backward figuring out all the steps needed to get from point A to B.
I did not, however, feel like they adequately illustrated the chapter to allow people to see what they were trying to communicate. If I were to suggest any improvements to the book I would only ask them to spend more time finishing the book with a bang instead of tapering off. Let me see how this concept of reverse engineering practically helps people live out the rest of the book.
All-in-all make sure you do not read this book. Or, make sure you read this book as soon as possible.