home
RSS
January 26th, 2011
10:00 AM ET

Osteen gets serious on sex, prosperity and politics

By Eric Marrapodi, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

By now you have likely seen or read that megachurch pastor Joel Osteen told CNN’s Piers Morgan he thinks homosexuality is a sin. For years Osteen has been dinged by religious critics as a theological lightweight - for talking too much about sunshine and not enough about sin. But the television preacher with the megawatt smile put his cards on the table in his hourlong interview with Morgan.

Osteen, who is rich, said it would be an insult to God to apologize for that blessing.

He tried to shake off the label of prosperity gospel preacher.

And yes, he said he thinks homosexuality is a sin.

Morgan pressed Osteen for a clear-cut answer on the topic of homosexuality in the taped interview with Osteen and his wife, Victoria, for "Piers Morgan Tonight," set to air at 9 p.m. ET tonight on CNN.

Morgan asked Osteen about the “moral maze” of homosexuality, asking him point-blank: “Is homosexuality a sin in your eyes?”

“Yes," Osteen answered. "I've always believed, Piers, the scriptures shows that it's a sin. But you know, I'm not one of those that are out there to bash homosexuals and tell them that they're terrible people and all of that. I mean, there are other sins in the Bible, too.”

Osteen continued his answer and said, “I think sometimes the church - and I don't mean this critically, but we focus on one issue or two issues, and there's plenty of other ones. So I don't believe homosexuality is God's best for a person's life. I mean, sin means to miss the mark.”

Homosexuality is a hot topic Osteen had previously deflected.

His massive Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas, is independent and not tied to a larger denomination. As a result, Lakewood is theologically independent and does not fall under broader denominational beliefs on religious issues like homosexuality.

Osteen took the pulpit at Lakewood after the death of his father, who had been the pastor. The younger Osteen has been criticized for, among other things, his avoidance of difficult theological issues. Morgan suggested to Osteen that he was prepared for the question on homosexuality even though he had not spoken on this issue in the past.

“I think I've grown in my knowledge," Osteen said. "I mean, those first interviews. I mean, this was all new to me. I mean, I wasn't - I didn't go to seminary. I wasn't - I was raised in this, but not in front of the camera. But I think this point - people say I don't - that I don't talk about sin.

"But I do talk about how we live our life, and making good choices. And at the end of every one of our services I talk about that I believe the greatest sin, and that's to miss the mark of not knowing your creator through Christ,” Osteen said.

Morgan went on to push Osteen about Elton John and his civil partner in England, David Furnish, asking if he though they were sinners.

“It's strictly back to what the scripture says," Osteen replied. "I mean, I can't grab one part and say God wants you to be blessed and live an abundant life, and not grab the other part that says, you know what? You know, live that kind of life. So I just - you know, it comes back to the scripture. I'm not the judge. You know, God didn't tell me to go around judging everybody.”

Osteen rose to prominence in large part because of his television ministry. He said 7 million people watch his show each week. His books have sold more than 20 million copies, bringing the pastor and his wife great financial success.

The Osteens went back and forth with Morgan on the topic of finances. Joel Osteen said he does not draw a salary from his church; instead he said he draws money from his book royalties and DVDs.

He was unapologetic about his financial wealth. For the interview he wore a finely tailored suit and shirt, which Morgan went to great lengths to point out. Osteen said he and his wife have given away millions.

Morgan asked Osteen if he ever felt guilty for his wealth. He replied, "I don't ever feel guilty because it comes from - it's God's blessings on my life. And for me to apologize for God's - how God has blessed you, it's almost an insult to our God."

Osteen continued, “There is a religious - I call it a spirit or something that says we have to be poor and broke and defeated and sad to show people that we're really humble, and that we really love God. And I don't believe that. I believe God wants us to be examples of what it means to live for him. And that our money is to be a blessing to others.”

There is a thin line between "prosperity gospel" - which commonly refers to some pastors who say God wants you to be happy, healthy and rich - and what Osteen preaches about finances. Osteen repeatedly said he is not a proponent of that version of Christianity.

"I get categorized into this guy that's a prosperity preacher. I don't even believe in that. I mean, that's not the focus. The main things I'm talking about is how you can excel," he said.

Osteen also told Morgan he does not drink or smoke, never dated a woman other than his wife, and that he votes regularly. Osteen said he voted for Republican John McCain in the 2008 presidential election after spending time with the Arizona senator.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Belief • Christianity • Homosexuality • TV • United States

soundoff (1,034 Responses)
  1. kristy

    kuhwks – hitler had millions of followers as well.

    January 26, 2011 at 3:09 pm |
  2. UEIFK@AOL.COM

    Christians are often accused of "judging" whenever they speak out against a sinful activity. However, that is not the meaning of the Scripture verses that state, "Do not judge." There is a righteous kind of judgment we are supposed to exercise—with careful discernment (John 7:24). When Jesus told us not to judge (Matthew 7:1), He was telling us not to judge hypocritically. The Bible also exhorts us to beware of evildoers and false prophets and to avoid those who practice all kinds of evil. How are we to discern who these people are if we do not make some kind of judgment about them?

    This man is obviously preaching the prosperity gospel not Jesus Christ’s gospel when he says: “The main things I'm talking about is how you can excel," Yes he wants people to excel materially not spiritually.
    If Jesus wanted us to be prosperous in the material world he wouldn’t have said these exact words:
    Matthew 19:23-24
    Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly I tell you, it is hard for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”
    If you notice He barely talks about Jesus himself but prosperity in the material world and that is not the purpose of us being on earth. We should all be looking to prosper in the spiritual not the material world as it does not last. So don’t be fooled by the soft spoken preacher the truth is he is not speaking truth when he twists the word of God to protect him from people judging them.

    January 26, 2011 at 3:09 pm |
    • CW

      @ UEIFK,

      I agree with all that you say....about how God wants us to encourage our brother's and sister's to change their sinful ways. In addition all the time I've wat-'ched him preach on the tv it is the "feel good message" hour. If he would come out and call sin a sin and not just preach a "feel good message"....then he wouldn't get put into the prosperity category.

      January 26, 2011 at 4:20 pm |
  3. Joe

    Sigh... people getting rich off of other's ignorance. Oldest trick in the book.

    January 26, 2011 at 3:06 pm |
    • Allen Goffinet

      Joe, which one are you the ignorant one, who listens to the world....or what does God say...get a relationship with God...watch what God can do...

      January 26, 2011 at 3:20 pm |
  4. Doug Lynn

    The folks here that suggest churches (and all non-profits) should be taxed are missing a very key point. A non-profit's assets, by definition, do not represent equity for anyone like business assets do for the business owners. If non-profits are taxed, there will be no taxes collected because people will no longer have any reason form non-profit organizations. If churches are taxed like businesses, then they will simply spend or give away all of their revenue each and every year to avoid taxes. Lots of businesses give bonuses and spend unnecessarily at the end of the year every year just to avoid corporate taxes.

    January 26, 2011 at 3:06 pm |
  5. Brandon

    Nobody complains when an athlete, actor, entertainer, etc makes millions, but for some reason when a pastor makes millions he's a crook. It be different if he wasn't donating millions and giving back, but he does. Not all pastors are crooks.

    January 26, 2011 at 3:05 pm |
    • Believer

      I agree Brandon. There are unfortunately some crook pastors out there. God will judge when judgment comes. But so very true how when athletes and actors make tons of money, there is no criticism.

      January 26, 2011 at 7:00 pm |
  6. Truman

    No, allowing this guy to call himself a man of God is the real sin!

    January 26, 2011 at 3:04 pm |
    • PSAztec

      Nobody has complained that President Obama made $5.5 million in 2009 by selling books. He gave 6% of that to charity. Joe Biden gave $4820 to charity and he earned $333,182. George W. Bush regulary gave over 10% to charity as stated on his tax returns. Continued proof that liberals like to complain about the right but they refuse to open their wallets to charities.

      Further evidence: According to their tax returns [notes Coulter], in 2006 and 2007, the Obamas gave 5.8 percent and 6.1 percent of their income to charity. I guess Michelle Obama has to draw the line someplace with all this ‘giving back' stuff. The Bidens gave 0.15 percent and 0.31 percent of the income to charity.

      Meanwhile, in 1991, 1992 and 1993, George W. Bush had incomes of $179,591, $212,313 and $610,772. His charitable contributions those years were $28,236, $31,914 and $31,292. During his presidency, Bush gave away more than 10 percent of his income each year.

      For purposes of comparison, in 2005, Barack Obama made $1.7 million - more than twice President Bush's 2005 income of $735,180 - but they both gave about the same amount to charity.

      That same year, the heartless Halliburton employee Vice President Dick Cheney gave 77 percent of his income to charity. The following year, in 2006, Bush gave more to charity than Obama on an income one-third smaller than Obama's.

      http://www.americanthinker.com/2009/03/obamas_charity_problem.html

      So tell me, why are people liberals harping on Joel Osteen's giving? The leader of liberals barely gives and his side kick really does not give.

      January 26, 2011 at 3:21 pm |
    • Observer

      Let's keep things in perspective. Obama is NEWLY rich. Remember how Republicans like to harp on the deal he made in order to get part of a property for a home?

      Bush is far richer and has been that way all his life. He doesn't need more money. Remember Daddy Bush practically giving him a major league baseball team?

      January 26, 2011 at 3:42 pm |
  7. STLBroker

    I don't like how Osteen answered the questions. He should have said every single one of us is a sinner myself included and that God hates ALL sin.

    That said, what he is doing for people is great. He doesn't ask for donations, they are sent to him because people support his message that God wants us to have all good things. They buy his books and DVD's for the same reason.

    I agree with him that people don't have to be poor and down trodden in order to show their humility and love of God.

    Several have used the Jesus quote "“I tell you the truth, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. 24 Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” But they fail to include the part that follows where Jesus says that with man it is not possible but through God ALL things are possible.

    Many examples of people in the Bible that had great wealth AND great favor with God. Solomon, Job and David to name a few.

    It's not about the size of your bank acount, it's about the size of your heart and how you show God's love to others.

    January 26, 2011 at 3:04 pm |
    • Believer

      Amen, that is so very true. With God, ALL things are possible. Non-believers always bash on Christians for having wealth but nowhere in the Bible does it say "no one can have wealth".

      January 26, 2011 at 6:58 pm |
  8. UEIFK@AOL.COM

    ITS SAD PEOPLE ARE GETTING IT ALL WRONG!!!
    Christians are often accused of "judging" whenever they speak out against a sinful activity. However, that is not the meaning of the Scripture verses that state, "Do not judge." There is a righteous kind of judgment we are supposed to exercise—with careful discernment (John 7:24). When Jesus told us not to judge (Matthew 7:1), He was telling us not to judge hypocritically. The Bible also exhorts us to beware of evildoers and false prophets and to avoid those who practice all kinds of evil. How are we to discern who these people are if we do not make some kind of judgment about them?

    This man is obviously preaching the prosperity gospel not Jesus Christ’s gospel when he says: “The main things I'm talking about is how you can excel," Yes he wants people to excel materially not spiritually.
    If Jesus wanted us to be prosperous in the material world he wouldn’t have said these exact words:
    Matthew 19:23-24
    Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly I tell you, it is hard for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”
    If you notice He barely talks about Jesus himself but prosperity in the material world and that is not the purpose of us being on earth. We should all be looking to prosper in the spiritual not the material world as it does not last. So don’t be fooled by the soft spoken preacher the truth is he is not speaking truth when he twists the word of God to protect him from people judging them.

    January 26, 2011 at 3:03 pm |
  9. Colin

    If there really were a god, why would he have made the atheists so smart and the believers so gullible and dumb? As this article so neatly demonstrates, I guess the old saying is true, the first priest was the first fraud to meet the first fool.

    January 26, 2011 at 3:02 pm |
    • LUG1

      Who's the fool a person who believes a bunch of dust gathered up together and exploded to create the basic elements of life. Or the person who believes intelligent design created the universe. Have a mathmatician run the probabilities based on modern science and see which is more likely to happen. You atheists might be shocked at the probabilities based on modern science dole out.

      January 26, 2011 at 5:33 pm |
  10. disciple

    R U people Kidding me. Jesus did not have to rent builldings to minister. Joel does not charge for coming to see him. That's misleading. IF you pay that guarantees you a seat in a certain section when coming to arenas. However, because so many attend, you can come in for free but it's 1st come seating. Furthermore, You can tell how many people read and study their bible on here. Simply quoting a scripture can be taken out of context. Jesus also said to the his disciples whom asked then whom can be saved, (i(n his response to scripture on the a richman getting into the kingdom) That nothing was impossible with God. You should not trust in uncertain riches. The disciples asked the question on whom then can be saved? because they were rich and wealthy!

    January 26, 2011 at 3:00 pm |
  11. concerned citizen

    You are an empty headed moron....

    January 26, 2011 at 2:58 pm |
  12. John

    Look at all the christian religious hypocrites, arguing about whether it's OK to be rich and on what basis. They all think they have an inside track on what it takes to get to heaven. See you all in hell, as none of you have a clue. You've all forgotten about who will sit in final judgement (Hint: it ain't going to be you)

    January 26, 2011 at 2:55 pm |
    • Believer

      The ones sitting next to God and bowing before him during judgment are the ones that have professed Jesus as the Lord and Saviour. Jesus says in John 14:6-7 that “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.”

      January 26, 2011 at 6:43 pm |
    • Magic

      Believer,

      "Jesus said... "

      Did he? Or did one of several authors who might have written under the name "John" say that (and everything else that has been attributed to Jesus)?

      January 26, 2011 at 6:50 pm |
  13. Deb

    A person can have a difficult time trying to write something if it is not posted due to unknown words that aren't allowed, even if it is absolutley using words that are in the primary article being commented about. It there a place that the rules and guidelines are posted for someone like myself to see, so that I may write my comment within those guidelines? Thank you

    January 26, 2011 at 2:54 pm |
    • Deb

      I did just read through the terms of service...seems that even though what is written is not in bad taste or using bad language, it could still for no reason other than a moderater wants to take it off, be taken off. I am curious as to why what I wrote in kindness was taken off I am happy to rearrange the wording or use a different term where needed. Thank you

      January 26, 2011 at 3:15 pm |
    • Maybe

      Deb,

      Found a copy of @Reality's list:

      Reality

      • The moderators of this blog have set up a secret forbidden word filter which unfortunately not only will delete or put your comment in the dreaded "waiting for moderation" category but also will do the same to words having fragments of these words. For example, "t-it" is in the set but the filter will also pick up words like Hitt-ite, t-itle, beati-tude, practi-tioner and const-tution. Then there are words like "an-al" thereby flagging words like an-alysis and "c-um" flagging acc-umulate or doc-ument. And there is also "r-a-pe", “a-pe” and “gra-pe”, "s-ex", and "hom-ose-xual". You would think that the moderators would have corrected this by now considering the number of times this has been commented on but they have not. To be safe, I typically add hyphens in any word that said filter might judge "of-fensive".

      • More than one web address will also activate “waiting for moderation”. Make sure the web address does not have any forbidden word or fragment.

      Sum Dude routinely updates the list of forbidden words/fragments.

      Two of the most filtered words are those containing the fragments "t-it" and "c-um". To quickly check your comments for these fragments, click on "Edit" on the Tool Bar and then "Find" on the menu. Add a fragment (without hyphens) one at a time in the "Find" slot and the offending fragment will be highlighted in your comments before you hit the Post button. Hyphenate the fragment(s) and then hit Post. And remember more than one full web address will also gain a "Waiting for Moderation".

      "Raison's Filter Fiber© (joking about the copyright)

      1. Here's my latest list – this seems like a good spot to set this down, as nobody's posting much on this thread.....
      ––
      bad letter combinations / words to avoid if you want to post that wonderful argument:
      Many, if not most are buried within other words, but I am not shooting for the perfect list, so use your imagination and add any words I have missed as a comment (no one has done this yet)
      – I found some but forgot to write them down. (shrugs).
      s-ex
      c-um.........as in doc-ument, accu-mulate, etc.
      sp-ic........as in disp-icable (look out Sylvester the cat!)
      ho-mo...whether ho-mo sapiens or ho-mose-xual, etc.
      t-it.........const-itution, att-itude, ent-ities, etc.
      an-al......ban-al
      sh-it
      fu-ck...
      who-re
      tw-at.....as in wristw-atch, (an unexpected one)
      pr-ick
      sl-ut
      c-lit
      va-g....as in extrava-gant, va-gina, va-grant
      hor-ny
      ar-se....yet "ass" is not filtered!
      nip-ple
      po-rn
      c-ock
      nig-ger
      cu-nt
      b-itch
      ra-pe
      jacka-ss...but ass is fine lol
      p-is.....as in pi-stol, lapi-s, pi-ssed, etc.
      o ficti-tious, repeti-tion, competi-tion.
      Sna-tch
      soft-ware
      Ja-panese
      There are more, so do not assume that this is complete.

      January 26, 2011 at 3:31 pm |
  14. Jen5

    Ok, let me try my comment again since it's awaiting moderation:

    When did it become "news" when a Christian Pastor actually states that a certain activity is a sin – especially given it's declared as such in both the Old and New Testaments?! What's next?: Breaking news, a Rabbi just proclaimed pork as unclean! Noooo!

    January 26, 2011 at 2:52 pm |
  15. BL

    He's nothing more than a salesman. What he's selling has nothing to do with spirituality. It's all about money, dogma, rigid belief systems, ritual and a huge dose of mythology. To paraphrase Ricky Gervais, thank god I'm an atheist!

    January 26, 2011 at 2:50 pm |
  16. emma

    NO, TSTORM, that was AL Gore!!

    January 26, 2011 at 2:50 pm |
  17. mike

    He is more like a motivational speaker,..nice business , he said the whats sweet to the ears !! i dont blame him !!!

    January 26, 2011 at 2:50 pm |
  18. BOSTONIAN

    His lovely wife looks befuddle, maybe she thinking... Joel I wish u knew when to shut it. She probably thought he was gay when she met him. God hates hater's Joel, and u might have poison your son. He'll will turn out GAY.

    January 26, 2011 at 2:49 pm |
    • Allen Goffinet

      Spoken, like a true Bostonian...and you know Joel would forgive you for saying things like that. I pray that you do not have a child or wife...that can see these kinds of things that come out of your mouth. Hey, bostonian , between you and GOD....are you proud of these words...and becareful...what you say. God is a vengeful God...he will repay twofold to the enemies of people that love him.

      January 26, 2011 at 3:18 pm |
  19. Gary

    "God didn't tell me to go around judging everybody.”

    unintentional comedy at its finest

    January 26, 2011 at 2:48 pm |
    • Eugene

      Gary why did you say Any Thing???? People are trying to find the Truth of the Bible you need to get more concerned about you and your's So many people are being mislead of Life after Death You Got a Death Day' ha' we all do!!!!!! God don't have a Birthday SIRENA!!!!!!!! now he don't have a Death Day as we all do" people are dieing in number's" it is mind bogaling how God is God" we will never know how God become God never" it is something that just can not be put into word's for ever and ever' and can not find out Where God Came From'

      January 27, 2011 at 12:04 pm |
  20. Library Worker with some smarts

    You have not becasue you have not asked?

    Huh and HUH?! Becasue I'm not closed minded I don't believe in God. Why would ask a question to the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown? Its the same thing dude! NOBODY is going to respond....the nuts are the ones who say "God talks to me"

    Yeah......me too. This is starting to get scary........

    January 26, 2011 at 2:46 pm |
    • Allen Goffinet

      Its scary, when you say...God doesn't speak to people. I m sure if you asked him something you will receive a response. The spirit your listening to is not of God...if u have some smarts, get to know God , read your bible. I m sure there is one at your library.

      January 26, 2011 at 2:56 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22
Advertisement
About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.