The Reality is Different: Resolving controversies about Providence Church Korea’s “Brides”
Recent news stories about Providence Church Korea and Jung Myung Seok have made headlines out of claims that members of the Church are groomed to be ‘brides’ for its leader. This led to the misreporting of Jung Myung Seok as a religious leader who is a womanizer. Fortunately, the reality is very different from these news stories.
The concept of ‘brides’ stems from the Bible. Multiple parts of the Bible depict the relationship between God and people as ‘husband and wife’ (see Isaiah 54:5) ‘bride and bridegroom’ (see Revelations 21:2) and enriches it with imageries such as a ‘wedding banquet’ (see Revelations 19:7). This is the Holy Bible, the authoritative text, that served as the fundamental tenets of Judaism (in part) and Christianity. For anyone who knows the Bible, referring to oneself as the bride of God is nothing new and far from committing religious controversy.
Then what does it mean to be a ‘bride’ of God? This is where the misunderstanding lies. The bride-bridegroom relationship is defined by love. To Jung, that love is a love from a oneness of heart, thoughts and deeds between God and man that is metaphorical of the oneness between a husband and wife. This is the love that has become his lifelong philosophy and it’s called ‘spiritual love’- a love that is of the mind. This is what makes God and people become ‘bride’ and ‘bridegroom’. Jung has emphatically said, to the point of death, that this love is worlds apart from sexual love; it is completely different, as far apart as heaven and hell can ever be.
These news headlines came about due to misunderstandings by the media, and perhaps a disinterest in real Biblical principles. The reality is that Providence is made up of large groups of men, families, children and the elderly. They are all brides because they chose to love and live for the Holy Trinity, cherishing the same philosophy as Jung’s. Anyone who has seen the reality will know that the media has been indisputably wrong in its portrayal of Providence.
To understand why human beings are ‘brides’, we need to understand God’ history recorded in the Bible.
The New Testament: Father and Son relationship
At the time of creation, God created Adam and Eve to be in the position of children before Him. They interacted with God as their Father, throughout the early chapters of Genesis. God did not treat them as servants, as He did to the Israelites hundreds of years later.
Sadly, Adam and Eve committed ‘the fall’, that is, they disobeyed God’s command for them to not eat the ‘fruit of knowledge of good and evil’. Due to their disobedience, God banished them from the Garden of Eden and His relationship with them broke. Rather than being a father, He treated them as a master would to a servant. . To Noah and Abraham, the latter generation, he instructed them to offer sacrifices of animals and grains. Mankind had fallen from grace because of Adam and Eve’s disobedience. Then God, through Moses, gave his Ten Commandments as laws to the Israelites, as they were no longer privileged to be children.
It was never God’s purpose for human beings to remain at the servant level. Four thousand years later, God sent Jesus, the Messiah, to restore mankind to the level of children.
The transition from servants to sons was not easy.
Jesus transformed peoples’ lives and their relationship with God, despite suffering from persecution. Not everyone who heard his preaching believed him and followed him. Many found his teachings difficult to accept, left him and even persecuted him. (see John 6:60-66)
Becoming children of God required a greater commitment than that of servants. Jesus taught God’s Word that was at a higher level, in terms of spirituality. It required people to be more sexually pure and have a greater earnestness towards God in their daily lives. In Matthew 5, Jesus said, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ 28 But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” With this one proclamation, Jesus raised the bar on adultery. Sin was no longer just committing physical adultery, sin was also having adulterous thoughts.
The Bride and Bridegroom Relationship
As far people know, the relationship between a husband and wife is the most intimate of relations. Therefore, God uses this form of relationship as a metaphor for the relationship He desires to have with us. In the Old Testament, God referred to himself as the Husband to mankind, the Bride.
For your Maker is your husband—
the Lord Almighty is his name—
the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer;
he is called the God of all the earth.
As a young man marries a young woman,
so will your Builder marry you;
as a bridegroom rejoices over his bride,
so will your God rejoice over you.
God’s wish for us to be His brides, in a counterpart relationship, was made even clearer in the New Testament. In Matthew 25, Jesus spoke of the parable of the 10 virgins waiting for the bridegroom to come; this was a parable about the Lord’s second coming. This became popularized in a famous hymn, with the line, ‘will our lamps be burning bride when the bridegroom comes?’
The revelations received by Apostle John, recorded in the book of Revelations, also showed mankind’s position as a bride before God.
2 I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.
Let us rejoice and be glad
and give him glory!
For the wedding of the Lamb has come,
and his bride has made herself ready.
God’s Purpose: Human beings are His counterparts
Pastor Jung Myung Seok taught that God’s greatest wish and His purpose for creation was for human beings to live as His brides, His counterparts. Men, women, children, the elderly, people of all races and nations- for everyone, the issue of life is how much we love God and live for Him. Yet, Pastor Jung has been criticized for preaching about this bride and bridegroom relationship, a relationship of a higher spiritual level.
Pastor Jung lives as a bride of the Lord, and as a bride, he is preaching God’s word. He has put his entire life, heart and will to loving Jesus as his bridegroom. His teachings are not simply theories, but a lifestyle in itself. Living a sexually pure life is absolutely fundamental, as well as a morally astute life. He teaches by example of his own life for how to love the Holy Trinity as a bride to a bridegroom.