In Athens, GA, Pastor Mark Driscoll begins the LoveLife Conference by first introducing his wife and family by giving some context to his own marriage. Below are some notes from the first session:
Driscoll shares what he calls a sad story about an older couple he was counseling. They were a married couple who has been together for years and for years the wife was frustrated with the husband, but never voiced these concerns to him. Driscoll ask, “what do you want out of your husband?” She responded, “I just want someone who will sit down with me and talk with me.” Driscoll ask, “How long have you been waiting for him to do this?” and she responds, “I have been waiting my entire marriage for him to just sit down and talk with me.” And Driscoll points out that this is for most a huge problem in marriages today that couples do not have relationships with their spouses.
In preparation for writing his new book, Real Marriage: Truth About Sex, Friendship, and Life Together, Driscoll and Grace went out to the mountains with each other to spend some time to write a book on marriage. And that is when it dawned on them that marriage is about friendship. Driscoll pointed out that “nobody talks about friendship and marriage.” After researching for hours, Driscoll discovered that there were no books written about friendship in marriage. And Driscoll found that there was really only one historian to talk about friendship in marriage, and that was Augustine in his book titled, Confessions.
Driscoll argued that, “We don’t examine the bible like we should to see what friendship looks like in marriage.” In his research, Driscoll started to see that “there are all these books written for men and women and they all want the exact same thing in marriage and that is friendship.”
Driscoll gave some statistics that 70% of men and women want friendship in their marriage. He concluded that “we are different but we want the same thing and that is friendship.”
Driscoll transitions into showing how the God of the Bible is a friend.
“Some people don’t believe in God, but some people believe only in one God. The Christian believes in the Trinity, which is made up of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit who lives in community. The God of the Bible is a friend and has friends. This is why one of the first thing that God says in the Bible is that it is not good for man to be alone. We need an equal to be our friend so God makes marriage to create friendship and community.”
“The problem with today is that we use the word “friend” too lightly. For example, how many friends do you have on Facebook? Exactly. They are not all real friends. Jesus had 12 disciple which represented the importance of good friendship.”
Driscoll then identifies three different marriages. In the first one Driscoll says that some marriages are “back to back” to where they turn on each other and are enemies. You have turned your back on each other. Separate bank account, separate bed, separate lives….etc.
Second type of marriage that Driscoll sees are “shoulder to shoulder” marriages. This is a relationship that is based on projects so you are getting married, remodeling the house, and doing stuff together. For many of us our parents marriage is a “should to should” type of marriage of where they feel close because they have projects to work on with each other. Therefore, when the kids move out and get older these couples begin to realize that there relationship is failing because they are not friends.
Driscoll identifies the third type as real relationships that are “face to face.” The bible uses this language of the importance of friendship. 1 Corinthians 13 is an example of this biblical view of friendship. The whole point of Skype and iChat, and FaceTime is so we can see each other face to face. This is really important because this is the essence of marriage.
“When you have sex before marriage you really don’t get to know each other because you lose the friendship. Sex before marriage causes you to feel closer than you really are.”
Most marriages are stuck “shoulder to shoulder” and not enough “face to face.” Driscoll discuss that his wife and him were getting a lot done but not enough face to face.
What happens when you are married for a while you get stuck in the shoulder to shoulder by being project based?
So where do we start? We start with friendship.
Fruitful - Marriages are meant to be fruitful.
“Marriages exist to glorify god and to be fruitful. A marriage couple that is totally selfish is an immature affection.”
“A real friendship is a relationship that desires to grow and mature amongst each other. We want to know god more, serve at the church….be fruitful.”
“When considering marriage, marry someone who loves God, willing to work on a friendship with you, and marry someone that you can be fruitful with.
Driscoll talks about this is why you want to find someone who shares the same passions, concerns, and has a heart for the same things.
Reciprocal - love does not come from us but through us, which comes from God.
“The source of love comes from God. We are downstream not upstream in the outflowing of love. You can love even when you don’t like. If you can love your enemies then that must mean you can access your source of love that is beyond you. What this means is that for a marriage to work you must be reciprocal. I choose to serve, love, be, help you. What often times happens is one person in the relationship loves and pursues while the other one doesn’t.”
“We have these friends that we are pursuing and they are never pursuing you, and that is not a friendship.”
“A friendship is not when you give and they take. If one person gives themselves and the other person doesn’t then thats an abusive relationship. If both give to the relationship then its healthy. Marriages are a give and take.”
“If you are doing everything in the relationship then you probably don’t have a relationship.”
“The reciprocal nature is that it really shows up in the little things.”
Intimate - Knowing one another in a way that others don’t know you.
“If you want friends then be friendly. Friendly people tend to have friends.”
“Back to the face to face in marriage, we both want friendship but we build them differently. How do women build relationships? through conversation. Women build their friendship through talking and listening. Not many guys will ask a bunch of dudes to sit down and just talk. Dudes build relationship around shared activity not shared conversation.”
“Friends are guys who do stuff with you. Guys friendship is built around shared activity and projects. So if you want to be a good friend to your wife then stop what you are doing and sit down with your wife and have a conversation with her.”
Enjoyable: marriages is meant to be enjoyable.
“Life is brief and short. That is why people will always comment on how fast someone is growing, because life is moving really fast. The point of Ecclesiastes is that life is moving fast so take the moments and live it when you can so life is enjoyable.”
“There are hard times in life and marriage that are dark, but the big idea is as friends you have to make the most of those enjoyable moments.”
”So much of the opportunities of marriage and life are missed because you are continually checking your phone. We live in a world of constant distractions.Life is meant to be enjoyable so don’t miss them but the distractions of technology.”
“A lot of the enjoyable moments of marriage and friendship are when we are surrounded around food. The meal times are really important.”
Needed - Genesis 2 identifies that relationships are created and needed.
“Single men are like milk and single women are like wine. The older the single man gets the crustier, moldy the guy gets. The older a single woman gets they become more wise, and refined like wine.
“Women want to marry a man who can make a baby and not one who is a baby.”
Devoted - You must be committed to each other.
“A friend loves at all times they are devoted. We have friends who are fun, but they are not the friends you would call when something serious happens because they are your fun friend.”
“If you want to be a good friend you must be able to weep with those who weep and rejoice with those who rejoice. What kind of friend are you?”
“A devoted friend is one that can walk and be by one another through all the seasons of life.”
Sanctifying - a good friend is sanctifying.
“A friend is one who is willing to tell you the truth.”
“What happens in a real friendship is that they will help you to grow and mature by the grace of God. So we ask how can you help one another to grow in sanctification.”
Driscoll quotes Gary Thomas that “marriage isn’t to make you happy but to make you holy.” You don’t realize how sinful you are until you get married.
“it is important and vital for you not to think of all the people who have failed you but to start by asking am I a good friend?”
Driscoll closes the first session that friendship in marriage is something that we have missed. Life is better with your friend.