As a single with a heart for marriage, I quickly discovered that marriage is like an exclusive club. In my attempts to gain insight on common problems in marriage, I found that singles are not exactly welcome in marital Bible studies, that single studies rarely involved real marriage issues or preparation, and that books are divided into two categories: married couples that need to love their spouses more and singles who should stop being so impatient.
I spoke to a pastor of my predicament: not being able to learn about marriage without actually being married. He was able to relate to my distress, being of the same mind when he was single himself.
“I actually used to sneak into marriage conferences before I was married,” he told me with a sheepish grin. “I wanted to know what I was getting into.”
And many singles share the same desire. We notice the 60% divorce rate, and want to know what measures to take immediately to keep from becoming part of a statistic.
The tour is based off of Driscoll’s new book Real Marriage: The Truth About Sex, Friendship, and Life Together. The book – co-written with his wife, Grace – is all ready #1 on the New York Times Bestseller List. The book takes a different approach to typical relationship books, asking first and foremost, “Are you friends with your spouse?”
“The first human friendship in the history of the world was a marriage,” Pastor Mark said at his conference in Corona, California. He went on to talk about the three different types of marriages: marriages where couples oppose one another (back to back), marriages where couples work together (shoulder to shoulder), and marriages based in friendship (face to face). He discussed serving your spouse, being friends with your spouse, and making your spouse your top priority.
The singles, however, were not left out. Pastor Mark applied all his topics to singles as well, not overlooking individual character and expectations when going into marriage, and – biggest of all – sex. And this wasn’t your typical uncomfortable conversation on fornication; instead, he addressed it as God’s gift. Not a god, not gross, but an amazing part of marriage.
Pastor Mark left no stone unturned. He addressed everything from porn to premarital sex, from lust to post-marital sex. Most of his sex talk was based off of 1 Corinthians 10:23, asking the questions “Is it lawful? (Biblically and legally)”, “Is it helpful?”, and “Is it enslaving?” He even took the time to do a few Q&A sessions with the audience that asked their questions via text message.
Even though Pastor Mark made us all laugh to tears with his insights, I don’t believe anyone left without some heavy conviction. Beyond his discussions on marriage and dating, Pastor Mark got to the core of faltering relationships: selfishness, pride, and a lack of a real relationship with Jesus Christ. In our love for Christ, we submit as servants to one another, because that is the picture of Christ’s love for us.
“All Christians are called to be servants,” he said, “It is a high honor because that’s what Jesus was.”
To find out more on the Real Marriage Tour visit The Hub website, which offers tickets and resources for the tour, as well as resources for small group Bible studies written by Mark Driscoll and other pastors such as John Piper and Matt Chandler. You can also go to marshill.com to watch Pastor Mark’s sermons about Real Marriage. (And I highly recommend his Song of Solomon series, The Peasant Princess.) Driscolls’ book, Real Marriage, can be purchased at most bookstores or any of the sites mentioned above.
I thank Pastor Mark for inviting singles with a heart for marriage into the exclusive club. Perhaps if more pastors and conferences let singles have backstage passes to learn about the real hardships of marriage, we can see the divorce rate diminish considerably, and see more marriages paint the beautiful picture of Christ’s love for His church.