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[From Julie]  Since we’ve already mentioned the Peasant Princess series a few times already, I thought I should explain what it is a bit more clearly.  I stumbled across it while reading a blog about marriage. I followed the link because Mark Driscoll was a familiar name to me and I was interested in the topic (obviously). The Peasant Princess is an eleven part sermon series that he did for his church on the Song of Solomon. Well, it completely rocked my world.

Each lesson is about an hour long and at the end of every sermon Mark brings out his wife Grace to help him with the questions that the church members have texted in during the lesson. This series is very practical and has tons of great suggestions for couples. Mark has done quite a bit of research while preparing for this sermon series both on interpretation of the text and statistical analysis of marriage in American culture. He does an excellent job of bringing a rather poetic and difficult to understand book into the practical reality of marriage today. You probably won’t agree with everything he says but you’ve got listen to it all and take advantage of the study he’s done. His wife Grace adds the feminine slant and it’s wonderful to see the two of them interact.

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Each one of the lessons focuses on a different chapter of the Song of Songs. Everything from how to date well before you’re married to how to understand your spouse better (that one was an eye opener for me). He also deals with ways to encourage each other in your spiritual life, sex practices and everything in between. It’s very frank and certainly calls married couples to stand up and protect their marriage. Mark also deals with issues that can sabotage your marriage and how to avoid them: constant denial of your spouse’s needs, not keeping yourself physically and emotionally well for your spouse, and the rampant issue of pornography. I think it’s a must see for every married couple, not just newlyweds. There’s a lot there. If you have an open mind and a willingness to do whatever it takes to make things better for your own marriage than you can’t help but benefit from seeing this. I’ve watched it several times and I get something out of it every time.

A phrase that comes up again and again in this series is ‘servant lover’. I love this image. The idea is that I will look after my husband by serving him well not only because I love him but because Jesus has served me. At the same time Noel is doing this for me. I never have to look out for ‘number one’ because Noel is doing that for me. That allows me to focus my energy on looking out for his best interests. ‘Number one’ suddenly becomes my spouse, not myself. If my attitude is like that than what wouldn’t I do for him? I think it is a very Christ-like attitude and it helps me remember that Jesus is the foundation of our marriage. Jesus came as a servant. Why should I expect to walk through my life never serving my husband or meeting his needs when Jesus satisfied my greatest need?

If you plan on watching this series you need to be prepared for some very frank discussions about pretty much every topic related to marriage – and I mean every topic. Pastor Mark is very honest and open during his sermons. He encourages couples to talk openly and freely with each other and be willing to try pretty much anything in the interests of their marriages. He has a delivery that you may find challenging (I personally enjoy it) but I guarantee you will be interested during the whole session. You don’t have to agree with everything he says in order to get a great deal out of the series.

When we do this as a small group we usually have five or six couples participating each time. We use the Mars Hill curriculum for groups that we were able to download from their website which has questions for the group to cover and also suggested homework for the couples to do on their own. Of course if you do the homework you will get more out of the sessions. The great thing about the groups is you get to hear what other couples are experiencing and you can learn from each other. It works quite well but it does take about five sessions together to get comfortable enough to discuss some of these issues. It is so beneficial to hear the perspective of couples who have been married a number of years and the groups have been able to build a sense of community of support. All in all it’s a positive experience each time we host a group. If you have any questions about it feel free to ask or comment below.