No Innocent Affair by Edward F. Mrkvicka Jr.
Mrkvicka Jr., Edward and Kelly Helen Mrkvicka. No Innocent Affair: Making Right the Wrong of Adultery. Mustang: Tate Publishing, 2011. 200 pp. $15.99. Purchase at Amazon for less.
Ed lives in rural Illinois and has written a couple other books that hit at the heart and soul of modern day evangelicalism. The first is Be Not Deceived, a book discussing the need to better understand grace in light of the Law and the reality that we ought to still obey the framework of the Law as set forth in the Old Testament. The second is The Prayer Promise of Christ, offers a reasoned argument that there is a way we were taught to pray if we are to be heard.
Note: I have not read these books and am not endorsing them. I share them here to let you know that this author has written more than just the book being reviewed.
Divided into six chapters, Mrkvicka takes the reader on a journey through the tough conversation of adultery (not divorce) beginning with the Word of God and ending with the reality of true forgiveness. In the first chapter, God’s View, Ed simply lets the Bible to do the speaking on God’s view of adultery and other subjects that are peripheral to adultery (like marriage, children, holiness, etc.).
The second chapter offers a synopsis of the world’s view of adultery (hint: “just do it” comes to mind). The final four chapters show the harsh realities of an act of adultery from destroying the soul to killing the family. The last two chapters look at how readily we (generally speaking) are willing to commit adultery and how we have been “deceived” into thinking we are forgiven.
At the very outset of the book, Ed states that he is a fundamentalist. This already causes the reader (and me) to go on high alert for legalism. Still, Mrkvicka does a decent job of walking a tightrope between legalism and licentiousness. He does come dangerously close to pronouncing adultery as the unpardonable sin but never really walks over the edge. He does make a point that even one act of adultery has farther reaching effects than one can imagine.
Ultimately, his case seems to be more against the habitual adulterer as his chapter on forgiveness seems to imply. His take on forgiveness is that repentance must necessarily precede forgiveness. This to some is splitting hairs, but, in my understanding of forgiveness, is in complete accordance with the Word of God. If we are to be children of God, we must have visual evidence of this claim. This is found in our works (see the Book of James!) though our works certainly do not save us. Mrkvicka suggests that the “believer” who is a habitual adulterer is not a child of God. I would actually agree with him though I believe my language would not be nearly as pointed and divisive as his.
While I would recommend this book to anyone looking to counsel in the area of adultery, I would not offer it to someone dealing with it in their personal life. It comes off as a bit too harsh in dealing with some sensitive topics. It is one thing to bring the thunder of the Word of God to shed a bright light on one’s sinful behavior. It is another thing to do so in a manner that will close the ears of the offender (though the argument can be made that a sinner will always close their ears).
I say this based upon how Christ treated sinners in Scripture. His harshest words were for the religious leaders (Mt. 12, John 2). His kinder and more gentler dealings were with the men and women he dealt with every day in need of counsel. The fact is, both people groups were sinners and Jesus chose to deal more harshly with one group than the other. I believe this is appropriate here as well.