While not agreeing with everything in Driscoll’s book, it is generally helpful and I enjoyed the openness of Mark and his wife sharing their struggles and overcoming them to have a godly and happy marriage.
The book is not nearly as controversial as many are claiming. From the Reformation onwards, Protestant Christians have always had a very high and unembarrassed view of the God-given blessing of sex within marriage, for pleasure as well as procreation.
The past few decades have seen a wealth of evangelical books dealing explicitly with sex. This has not gone on unnoticed – for example, secular on-line culture magazine Slate carried an article in 1999 on the “booming Christian sex-advice industry“. That article refers to the book “Intended for Pleasure” by Ed and Gaye Wheate, which I would still recommend as more helpful and more basic than Driscoll’s practical sections.
The strength of “Real Marriage” is helping Christians recover from the mind-poison of pornography and the widespread sexual assault and abuse which clouds so many marriages. Not only does the gospel of Jesus Christ bring full forgiveness, but it has power to heal and reshape even the most struggling marriages. The book models this very well, it does not come quickly or easily but via the gospel there is hope for every marriage.
Leaving aside the obviously distracting “Can We ___?” chapter, the book is full of biblical and practical wisdom on male servant leadership and wifely respect, on mutual friendship and understanding, working against bitterness and developing real forgiveness. It’s advocacy of ‘full disclosure’ between spouses as a path to healing and growth is to be commended. The discussion on contraception is very helpful.
This book is not bad and also not great, but it is a good book. I doubt it will become a Christian classic. I think there is more benefit to listening or watching Mark’s excellent preaching online where he deals with marriage topics.
In my view the best conservative evangelical theological and biblical primer on Christian marriage is still Douglas Wilson’s “Reforming Marriage” (published by Canon Press in 1995).