Others choose a different approach. In Real Marriage: the Truth about Sex, Friendship, and Life Together, Mark and Grace Driscoll set out to answer nearly every question a couple might have about their relationship. As in most of his undertakings, Mark takes pride in being especially candid and unfiltered, deliberately addressing subjects that you normally would not with a minister or in a church setting. In a sense, I admire that. There's something refreshing and authentic about a willingness from a pastor to talk about taboo subjects that are not normally mentioned in church. On the other hand, authenticity is not a substitute for credentials. Perhaps Mark feels perfectly qualified to talk about the complicated aspects involved in the social side of marriage that go beyond theology and biblical knowledge, but I certainly do not.
The Driscolls are not the only Christian couple jumping on this bandwagon. Ed Young Jr and his wife Lisa recently released a book entitled Sexperiment: Seven Days to Lasting Intimacy with Your Spouse. This one makes me even more uneasy than Mark and Grace's because it narrows the subject down to the sexual relationship alone. I can hear some people objecting: "but Matt, don't you think it is good that a pastor is finally willing to talk about something that typically is not talked about enough in church?" In a sense, yes. But the concerns I have regarding the Driscolls' book are magnified that much more in the Youngs'. What makes them an expert on sex? Furthermore, how likely is it that the subtitle will deliver it's promise and lead to lasting intimacy in only seven days???
Perhaps I just have not been a pastor long enough to address such complicated issues as these. However, I suspect that even after serving in ministry for several years, I still would not feel comfortable in writing a whole book on the subject. Not because I don't have a wonderful marriage or know some Bible verses that address the subject, but because I am not an expert on the topic. So, what balanced book would I recommend that addresses both the biblical and social aspect of the marriage relationship? I am glad you asked! When browsing through a list of published works from the faculty of George W. Truett Theological Seminary, I recently came across a book co-written by Drs. David and Diana Garland called Beyond Companionship: Christians in Marriage.
What makes this book different? Several things. While it is also co-authored by a husband and wife team, it is not restricted to the field of "Christian living." It offers more than Bible verses strung together, sprinkled with personal anecdotes and opinion. It approaches the subject from both a biblical and social standpoint, because those are the respective fields in which these two individuals are competent. As the dean of a seminary and leading scholar, David ensures that marriage is considered in the appropriate biblical context; while Dianna, dean of Baylor University's school of social work, ensures that contemporary and social issues that may not be addressed in the Bible are not ignored.
This book was written in 1986, and to my knowledge, never made the "bestseller" display in the Christian book store. It does not make sweeping claims to transform your marriage following a few easy steps from the Bible. But it does take an honest and qualified look at serious issues surrounding this God ordained institution. If you are looking for something that goes beyond a pastor's personal experience and opinion on this topic, this is what I would overwhelmingly recommend.