Real Marriage by Mark Driscoll, chapter 5: Taking out the Trash

I’m gonna divide this chapter into parts because, this is taking a lot out of me to do it all at once. So I’ll try to get through half a chapter.

Chapter 5: Taking out the Trash

Just like every house accumulates trash that needs to be taken out regularly, we humans have sin that we need to repent of regularly.

All couples fight. The only couples the Driscolls have seen that don’t fight are either lying or living emotionally distant lives. When you get married, you WILL fight.

Maybe married people can give me more feedback: is this true or false? It has the ring of truth to it but it’s Driscoll, so that doesn’t mean much.

[quote] the question is, will you fight well to the glory of god and the good of your marriage?[/quote]

Lol whut? What does this even MEAN? I have no idea. Is this where you fight about how best to worship God? Maybe some married people could help me out here because I honestly odn’t get it.

There are 4 horsemen of marital death. I don’t think this is coming from Mark, I think he’s paraphrasing Dr. John Gottman, who he says is a marriage expert.

So, what ARE the 4 horsemen of the marital apocalypse? Someone please write a fanfiction about 4 horsemen of the marital apocalypse because that would be more interesting.

Horse man #1: Criticism. See, when you criticize your spouse, your attacking the person, not the problem.

Because Marky boy has never heard of CONSTRUCTIVE criticism, apparently.

Horseman #2: Contempt. Contempt is showing disgust for your spouse. This can include behavior such as constant eye rolling, mocking, etc.

Horseman #3 is defensiveness. This occurs when people give nonpologies, or back down from the conflict. It is the excusing of behavior.

Horseman #4: Stonewalling. This is when we stop working toward oneness and instead settle for 2 parallel lives.

Because heaven forbid you be your own person, kiddies.

Stonewalling is when you have separate financial, social, and spiritual lives.

I actually don’t see a problem with this? I mean if you and your spouse have NOTHING in common, sure. But like, my mom, for example, has a separate checking account from my dad. Also, there are certain bills that are in her name only and not my dad’s. My eyes kinda glazed over when she was explaining this, but it was something to do with “in case something happens to your father.” I guess it looks better if some bills are in her name for some reason at that point?

So, in some cases, isn’t it GOOD to have a separate financial life? I even think it’s a good thing to have your own spiritual life, because your spirituality should be between you and God, and no one else. I’m not saying you can’t pray and read the bible together, but like, it just seems off to me that your relationship with God would include a 3rd person of necessity.

I also don’t see a reason against having some friends that aren’t mutual. One of my adult friends was explaining that her husband hangs around a certain group of friend sometimes, and she doesn’t like them. But she knows it’s important to her husband to hang out with them, and so her husband goes and does his thing and she does her thing, and then other times they visit with mutual friends.

So in some cases and in moderation I disagree that these things are bad.

Oh, and apparently husbands do 85% of the stonewalling. Citation needed.

The reason the 4 horsemen exist is sin, and I bet you can guess what the answer to that is! Or do I rreally need to tell you?

Mark then goes on to describe repentance. He presents to us the story of a woman who couldn’t afford to buy things she wanted, so she got a secret credit card and attempted to pay it off without her husband knowing. Except she kept buying more stuff, accumulating more debt, etc.

Finally she sat her husband down and confessed.

I… don’t really see how any of this was a sin? Yeah it was dumb to keep buying things she couldn’t afford, but wasn’t Marky-boy talking a few chapters ago how some things are not sins, but aren’t a good idea either? In fact, IIRC, one of the examples he used was a guy who spent every single penny on a new car. Mark said the man was stupid, but he wasn’t sinning.

Based on this, I’m guessing that the woman’s sin wasn’t living beyond her means, but rather, daring to have a financial life outside of her husband’s.

I’m gonna skip ahead a little bit here in the chapter, because Mark brings the story up again when he talks about forgiveness.

As an act of repentance, the wife (no, we don’t get a name, not even a fake one) cut up the credit card in front of him and promised never to do it again. Her husband forgave her, and admitted that her keeping it all a secret from him had hurt worse than her spending the money.

I’m not saying it’s a good idea to keep secrets like that from your spouse, especially if you’re in trouble. But OH GOOD GOD DRISCOLL!

It is OK if a wife wants her own credit card separate from her husband. Why is it a sin for her to get a secret credit card and blow money on things she doesn’t need, but it wasn’t a sin for the man to blow every penny on a car 2 chapters ago? Double standard much? Jezus Krist man!

To the husband in the story’s credit, he never mentioned the incident again because he didn’t want to shame his wife. the only reason Marky-boy knows about it is because the wife talks about it non stop.

Well, at least the husband tried, theoretically, not to shame her.

Alright, back to repentance. Mark rambles a bit about how Jesus never repented because he never sinned, so we can’t learn from him on this. Mark then makes a long list about what repentance is NOT. Let’s take a look:

1. About getting caught, but confessing.

What does your spouse not know about you?

So, it’s a sin to keep ANY secret from your spouse? Great. Reason #5,321 I never got married. There’s just some things I don’t want to share.

2. Denying our sin

what sins are in your life that you have simply not accepted as sin that has to be dealt with honestly?

3. diminishing our sin

What have you partially confessed about?

4. Managing our sin

what sins are we trying to keep under control so that no one we respect sees them?

5. blame shifting our sin

What ways have you blamed others for YOUR sin?

6. someone else’s sin

Do you bring up someone else’s sin, instead of focusing on your own?

7. manipulating God or other people for blessing

Have you ever faked repentance in order to try and manipulate God and or other people?

8. worldly sorrow

See, non christians feel bad about their sin, but they don’t see it as an offense to god, and they don’t hate their sin for what it does to God [b]and others[/b] (bolding mine.)

Here that all you heathens? you can’t ever repent, because you don’t care about what your sin does to other people!

9. Merely grieving the consequences of your sin, but hating the sin itself

I (Trynn) think this one is pretty self explanatory, and Mark doesn’t do a good job of explaining it anyway. It’s basically where you hate the fact that your best friend doesn’t talk to you anymore because you gossiped about her, rather than the fact that you hurt your friend when you gossiped.

10. Mere confession

you can’t just say you’re sorry, you have to really change.

so, after that megalist of what repentance ISN’T, are you ready to read about what is? Are you ready to feel excluded because you’re not a Christian? Good.Here is Mark’s list of what Repentance(tm) is:

1. Confession.

Confess before God that you’ve sinned. Confession includes both mind and mouth.

2. Contrition

When you feel what God feels about your sin. This involves both emotions and expressions. your heart is affected, not just your words.

3. Change

Stop sinning and start worshiping. Change includes your will and your works.

Here that all you heathens? Not only do you have to stop sinning, you have to start worshiping.

He doesn’t say in this sentence WHAT I have to worship, however. Can I pick my dog? I love my dog. She’s so cute. Here’s a picture.


Sorry. I needed emergency dogs, apparently.

And that’s it. After his super long list about what Repentance is not, we only have 3 definitions of what it actually IS.

The next section is on forgiveneness, but for sanity’s sake I need to save it for another day. Actually, that’s a little bit untrue, I’m just running out of vodka.

This next section is on forgiveness. It’s not terrible, but there are some WTF moments.

Mark talks about how you need to forgive your spouse, because Jesus forgave you. After all, no one has been sinned against more than God, and we’ve hurt him more than anyone else. God could be a very bitter person, and isntead he sent Jesus to die for us.

If Mark doesn’t think God is bitter, he must never have read the Old Testament. Juuuuust sayin’.

More talk about God forgiving us. He repeats himself a lot using different words.

Lists! Because we like lists in this chapter:

What forgivness is not:

1. denying, approving, or diminishing the sin that is comitted against us.

We can’t say, “it’s fine, no big deal” when it really ISN’T fine and it IS a big deal.

2. Naivety.

Naive people ignore sin rather than forigving it, because they don’t really see the sinfulness of sin.

3. enabling sin

Don’t be complicit in the sinner’s actions

4. Waiting for someone to apologize

We need to forgive because God does, not whether or not the person who sinned against us repents

5. forgetting about sin committed against us

It’s impossible to forget such things. But we need to not constantly bring it up to people.

6. Dying emotionally and no longer feeling the pain of the transgression.

We still feel the pain, but choose not to be paralyzed by it.

7. A one time event

Those who have been sinned against may feel fresh waves of anger, and need to continually forgive.

8. Reconciliation

9. Neglecting justice

If someone has committed a crime, you’re free to forgive the person AND call the police. Also, by not seeking vengeance, we are trusting God to punish him in the end.

So, now that we’ve gotten a long list of what forgiveness ISN’T, what does Drizcoll say it is”

[quote]Forgiveness is loving despite sin. Just as God forgives undeserving sinners, we must too.[/quote]

Forgiveness is loving despite sin.

The next subsection of the Chapter is entitled bitterness. Because in Christian Land, this is one of The Big Sins.

Mark starts the section with a story about how, when he was a little boy, he saw a tree in his yard he didn’t like, so he took his father’s handsaw and cut it down. He thought he’d taken care of the problem (there’s no mention at all as to whether or not his parents were pissed) btu the tree just grew back the next spring! This is because the tree had roots.

Bitterness also has roots.

[/quote] The only alternative to forgiveness is bitterness. And the only alternative to bitterness is forgiveness.[/quote]

So, according to Marky boy, we must either forgive, or we’re bitter. This is why victims often get silenced; they are accused of being bitter and told they need to forgive. This teaching, therefore, is harmful.

Marky boy continues to talk about bitterness, and how it affects families. He says children are affected by the bitterness of their parents, whole gerneations affected, circles of friends poisoned, and

[quote] entire churches can be consumed with demonic drama that proceeds from one tongue speaking on behalf of a bitter heart.[/quote]

Wow, guilt trip much? Forgive people or you’ll grow bitter, and then you’ll be singlehandedly for destroying a while church!

In which case, sign me up, because I would DEARLY love to have that kind of power.

Those who are bitter often have a good reason to be angry. This includes cases of abuse. You’re more likely to be bitter if the person who sins against you is close to you.

Paul told us to put away lying and speak the truth, to deal with bitterness. I bet if you look that verse up in context it’s not about bitterness at all, but I’m lazy and sober. We have a tendency to want to blame others for our bitterness.

[quote]The truth is, people, even the worse of them, do not embitter us. Rather, they provide an opportunity, or temptation, to choose bitterness, for which we are morally responsible.[/quote]

Here that kids? If you don’t forgive, you WILL be bitter, and it’s ALL YOUR FAULT.


It’s ok to be angry, but it is not ok to sin in your anger. We also have to be careful we don’t confuse righteous anger with unrighteous bitterness.

Whatever the hell that means.

To illustrate an example of bitterness, Mark is going to give us a little history lesson about John and Charles Wesley, the founders of methodism.

Charles and his wife had a lovely marriage, bla bla. John, however, had a very bitter marriage. Some called his marriage to Molly “the 30 year war.” John traveled a lot for his ministry, but his wife wanted him home more often. She was bitter that he traveled so often, and he was bitter that she wanted him to travel less. Instead of forgiving and repenting, they became bitter enemies.

Even I have to admit this doesn’t sound like a healthy marriage, but it doesn’t sound like “repenting and forgiving” was the problem. The problem sounded like the stubborn lack of compromise on John’s part.

Molly tried to sabotage his ministry by writing damaging letters, one of which claiming John had had an affair. John of course denied the charges. Their fights came down to physical violence.

John wrote letters to multiple women, which made Molly jealous. Their final years were spent apart.

Marriage either gets bitter or better. The gospel is the only answer to the bitterness and anger victims feel.

Yeah I got told that a lot too, anybody have any better answers because personally even when I was a Christian the bible never did anything for me.

And… that’s really all the important stuff Marky boy has to say on the subject. He goes on for a bit about the evils of being bitter, but he’s basically repeating what he said else where in the book. In the next section, we will learn how to have “a good fight”which, as he describes it, seriously doesn’t sound to me like fighting, but having a serious, respectful discussion.


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