Driscoll Responds to Critical Book Reviews

CNN did an interview with Mark Driscoll about his new book Real Marriage. In the course of the interview, they asked him if he would like to respond to some of the negative reviews. Here’s the exchange:

When asked to respond to his critics, Driscoll said he hadn’t read any of the reviews but that “sometimes reviewers will reveal more of their own struggles than actual problems with the book.”

“I am not backing down from it. I am going to stick to my guns on it,” Mark Driscoll said. “This is not just stuff that I have pulled out of my mind. These are issues I have dealt with for 15 years and it is battle tested.”

Read the rest here.

24 Responses to Driscoll Responds to Critical Book Reviews

  1. Danny January 6, 2012 at 4:27 pm #

    did not think i’d see an article that would put you and rachel held evans on the same side of a coin!

  2. Charlie Albright January 6, 2012 at 4:29 pm #


    Now, in his defense, I don’t know if Mark knew who the criticism was from. CNN might have just told him that “critics said.” If he knew that the criticism was from a faithful pastor and scholar and from a highly respected reformed Christian blogger he might have paid more attention.

    But regardless, he should pay more attention to what godly people are saying about his writing. To disregard the voice of the godly is a very dangerous road.

  3. Scott January 6, 2012 at 4:29 pm #

    Curious: do you think he’s actually even aware of the poor exegesis for his paradigm? Or does he just not care? I’m wondering if all of the legitimate criticisms (poor editing/organization, poor exegesis of 1 Corinthians, etc.) have totally flown over his head and now he just would rather not read any criticism because of his past with critics (which, to a point, is understandable). Or he knows, and just doesn’t care, which is quite a bit disconcerting. Thoughts?

  4. Aaron Armstrong January 6, 2012 at 4:29 pm #

    I read that earlier (congrats on your inclusion in the article, by the way). Really frustrated by Driscoll’s response. So much for that whole “turning your critics into coaches” thing, huh?

  5. Kamilla January 6, 2012 at 4:35 pm #

    He’s absolutely right. It reveals that some of us aren’t ecclesial deists, that we give the giants upon whose shoulders we stand a voice, that we’re not arrogant enough to think our debased culture presents us with something that’s never been seen before, that pleasure is a consequence of the marital act and not its chief purpose and that because of the nature of the Incarnation and marriage as an icon of the relationship between Christ and the Church – we cannot remain silent on his errors which not only debase men, women and marriage, they debase the Gospel itself.

    • Scott January 6, 2012 at 5:35 pm #

      Um, about that pleasure in marriage thing. Granted, pleasure is not the chief purpose, but let’s not act too puritanical here! We need to show the world a redeemed version of sex, to set it in it’s proper context – and yes, part of that is the joy married couples can receive and give one another in the bedroom. We don’t need to decry it’s pleasure.

      • Kamilla January 6, 2012 at 11:29 pm #

        I didn’t decry its pleasure, just pointed out that it was not the chief *purpose*. God makes all sorts of things pleasurable that He wants us to do and are good for us – things as divergent as eating and worshipping Him. But the pleasure we derive from them are not their chief purpose.

        Pointing that out is not “puritannical” in the sense I think you mean it.

  6. yankeegospelgirl January 6, 2012 at 5:33 pm #

    I wonder if he’d change his tune if Piper wrote a critique of it. Piper might demure because Grace is involved too, but at this point I don’t know what to expect.

  7. Mark January 6, 2012 at 5:35 pm #

    What if people reviewed his book the same way by not actually reading it, but making general observations about it? What he said might be true, but that’s not a fair response to the critical reviews that actually engaged the book through a biblical lens.

    Does this mean he is unteachable?

    • Matt January 6, 2012 at 8:04 pm #

      He cant be taught by what he hasnt read.

  8. donsands January 6, 2012 at 5:35 pm #

    “I am not backing down from it. I am going to stick to my guns on it,”

    Sad statement for a book he wrote. Good statement for the Gospel though.

  9. Kamilla January 6, 2012 at 6:26 pm #


    I’m just thankful I didn’t have anything in my mouth when I read your comment.


  10. Jim W January 6, 2012 at 7:05 pm #

    I think it’s rather telling that he says he doesn’t read the bad reviews, but admits that he does read the good reviews. Sounds like he sticks his fingers in his ears and goes “la, la, la, la” when he doesn’t want to hear the whole story.

  11. Christiane January 6, 2012 at 7:11 pm #

    I think I see the problem:

    the CBMW supports the idea of a submission wife.

    the Driscoll’s book says it’s ‘okay’ to do (fill in the blank)

    and if you put those together, you might end up with a husband who is expecting his wife to be submissive and who thinks ______ (fill in the blank) as a sexual practice is ‘okay’.

    Where upon the wife freaks out.

    Producing marital strain coming at them from two fronts and colliding with the wife in the position of being asked to possibly go against her own conscience and comfort level in order to ‘keep sweet’ as some in patriarchy have called it.

    What a mess.

    • Bradley January 9, 2012 at 12:49 am #

      That’s what i think is so dangerous about this book and the practices mentioned. If you are to be self sacrificing how is your conscience not going to be seared once you find out your spouse wants to do so and so and you don’t? It really is killing me that these “men” aren’t protecting their wives and daughters from such perversions. Oh wait, since Scripture doesn’t say ” No oral sex or sodomy for married people” it’s okay to do it. I just find that to be a straw man to easily knock over. If it’s not in Scripture we need to use biblical principles to see if ti’s right or wrong. The bible doesn’t say you can’t make a sex video of you and your wife but it definitely is a sin. We as men are to be protectors and these things are not protecting but perverting.

  12. Nate Claiborne January 6, 2012 at 7:38 pm #

    I saw this earlier too and found it interesting the 4 reviews pulled together on it and was also surprised that it got CNN’s attention so soon (I think there’s another Love Wins publicity lesson in here somewhere).

    While I am generally appreciative of Driscoll’s ministry in spite of his obvious flaws, I am wondering if his response cuts both ways. Driscoll said: “sometimes reviewers will reveal more of their own struggles than actual problems with the book.”

    So couldn’t we also say: “the content of an author’s book will reveal more of their own struggles than actual problems”? or, in this case, “The content of an author’s book reveal more of their own priorities than they might think.”

    Tim Keller’s book on marriage has less than 20 pages out of 200 about sex. Driscoll’s book spends 84 pages on friendship, conflict resolution and roles in marriage, while focusing 96 pages on sex. Both books appear to be aimed at helping married couples build strong marriages and finish well. Yet Driscoll’s book is clearly making sex within marriage something of a focal point of it all.

    I’m not saying either approach is necessarily right or wrong in writing a marriage book, I thought its just worth pointing out that even though the Driscoll’s say in their book “the key to marriage is working on friendship,” the contents of the book suggest the key to marriage is a healthy sex life (Pastor Mark’s recollection’s in the opening chapter point in the same direction).

    In the end, I’m still working my through the book to offer a review, but I can’t help wondering if maybe more of the controversy lies not in the bare content on the book, but in how the book reflects Driscoll’s understanding of marriage, the priority of sex, and how his personal revelations shed new light on his previous teaching (esp. the Song of Solomon series).

    I don’t want to bash Driscoll unnecessarily, but the book deserves critical analysis and hopefully Driscoll will respond to some of the weightier criticisms, but it looks like that might not be the case.

  13. yankeegospelgirl January 6, 2012 at 11:06 pm #

    Pfffffft. Some response.

  14. Don Johnson January 7, 2012 at 10:38 am #

    “I will endure as much criticism as necessary to help as many people as I can,” concluded Driscoll.”

    Driscoll certainly does that, by being a horrendous teacher. He is so easy to repudiate. P.S. He does say some things that are both helpful and obvious and can be found in almost any reasonable marriage book

  15. Richard January 7, 2012 at 10:50 am #

    Dare I ask Scott what “a redeemed version of sex” might be? “Redeemed” has other implications…Christian practice, Christ’s act of redemption, sacred, whatever, but it is confusing!

  16. Bruce H January 7, 2012 at 11:18 am #

    Here is a response from another book of Driscoll, “What the Bible Really Says About Sex”.


    Sad world we live in.

  17. Diane Woerner January 8, 2012 at 7:53 pm #


    Relative to this discussion, could you please exegete Hebrews 13:4? Is the bed undefiled simply because its occupants are married, or is this an admonition to keep it undefiled?

    Thank you,


    • Denny Burk January 9, 2012 at 12:28 am #

      Dear Diane,

      Hebrews 13:4 Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled; for fornicators and adulterers God will judge.

      Notice that the command is “let the marriage bed be undefiled.” Why? Because God judges “fornicators” and “adulterers.” The author has marital relations in mind, yet he says the marriage bed can defiled by both adultery and fornication. This seems to suggest that fornication is possible within marriage. The word “fornicator” comes from the Greek word pornos, and in context it seems refer to a married person who is not an adulterer but who nevertheless commits immorality. That is why F. F. Bruce says that it refers to a wide range of “sexual irregularities, including unions within the bounds prohibited by law.”

      I think that this view needs to be reckoned with in a book like Real Marriage.


  18. Reg Schofield January 8, 2012 at 11:45 pm #

    “Sometimes reviewers will reveal more of their own struggles than actual problems with the book.” Really . Pastor Mark , read the reviews and open your eyes. The man is unteachable and contentious is he not .Sad.


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