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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. Bob

    How can anyone in their right mind not see this guy is a con artist??????? He's the epitome of a snakes oil salesman.

    January 26, 2011 at 4:29 pm |
  2. Matt

    The problem with Osteen is he says God wants you to be wealthy. If this is what the bible truly says, then the bible is false, because there are plenty of deserving poor people, who are kind and generous (even in the bible) who are not wealthy by any stretch of the imagination. Osteen confuses the meaning of "blessing" with what it means today and what it means in the bible. In the bible, "blessing" simply means to be envied. When Jesus says someone is blessed, he doesn't mean they will be wealthy, but that everyone should be envious of how good they are., or how much faith they have (This is not the same kind of bad envy that the 10 commandments warn against).

    However, this argument can be put to rest completely when we realize the bible is a collection of jewish and roman history, mythological stories, wisdom, poetry and fables.

    January 26, 2011 at 4:28 pm |
    • LUG1

      ABSOLUTELY FALSE

      January 26, 2011 at 5:05 pm |
  3. PSAztec

    @Observer. President Obama is just not a generous person, in comparison to President Bush when it comes to giving to charity. As I have noted, liberals are not as giving to charity as conservatives. Plain and simple. President Obama and people like him just want to give out taxpayer money. http://taxprof.typepad.com/taxprof_blog/2008/03/obama-releases.html and

    January 26, 2011 at 4:26 pm |
    • Eric G.

      You are correct. Bush is so generous, he gave away over 4000 American soldiers lives to the Iraqi people. What a great humanitarian!

      January 26, 2011 at 4:34 pm |
    • Ilove2teach

      I don't believe that anyone should tell anyone else what to believe or how to live. People who listen to this guy and think he has the answers can't think for themselves? I have many friends who are gay and lesbian. They are all wonderful people who contribute to the well-being of others and live their lives to do good. No one can tell me they are less worthy of God's love. It is nonsense to believe, as this guy would have us think, that there is a specific blueprint for being valued.

      January 26, 2011 at 5:14 pm |
    • Observer

      Bush fought hard to decrease his own taxes.
      McCain, with more houses than he can remember fought hard to decrease his own taxes.
      Kennedy fought to increase his own taxes.
      Obama fought to increase his own taxes.

      January 26, 2011 at 9:15 pm |
  4. Linda, Houston

    To all those who said the Osteens give them the creeps....AMEN!! Me too. He comes across to me like some kind of pervert!

    January 26, 2011 at 4:25 pm |
    • Eric G.

      I agree Linda. He is probably into some kind of weird stuff. Just look at the way his wife is staring at him. She is probably saying to herself "Soon as this interview is over and we get back to the hotel, you are going to get a beating, you naughty little b-tch."

      January 26, 2011 at 4:32 pm |
  5. Joel Osteen1

    HAHAH.Biggest fraud in the world people....is the church. Keep being suckers while fat old people sin and get rich while you try to buy your way into heaven fools.

    January 26, 2011 at 4:24 pm |
  6. Joel Osteen

    Biggest fraud in the world people....is the church. Keep being suckers while fat old people sin and get rich while you try to buy your way into heaven fools.

    January 26, 2011 at 4:23 pm |
  7. Joel Osteen

    This guy is a fraud. Didn't earn his money one bit. Just speak about the bible and all the suckers come in and donate like idiots. You better hope there is a heaven you idiots.

    January 26, 2011 at 4:21 pm |
  8. victor c.

    look up Calvinism pride is one of the deadly sins I will pray for the Calvinists that they can cure this disease of the soul.

    January 26, 2011 at 4:19 pm |
  9. cmxsmitty

    He'll be the next one to come out. Then he and Ted Haggard can start a church together.

    January 26, 2011 at 4:17 pm |
  10. calvin

    Very well put-UEIFK@AOL.COM-The truth always cuts like a sword-GOD BLESS YOU!!!

    January 26, 2011 at 4:12 pm |
  11. Paul

    How is what Joel does any different than our Congress does to us? At least when Joel speaks, he asks for our money. If you dont want to pay, then dont. You do have a choice. I saw reference to his "followers" being sheep. Uncle Sam is the largest sheep herder around, and yet when someone decides to try and make a living...gets rich...they blame everyone else. Wake up people...go out and make a difference for yourselves, and not complain about the ones who have.

    January 26, 2011 at 4:10 pm |
  12. Eric G.

    And...........The thread has broke down..........again.

    Great job cnn!

    January 26, 2011 at 4:10 pm |
  13. jay

    if someone could find one thing joel has said in the pulpit that does not line up with the word of God then I could understand some of these claims but so far he has been faultless watch his archive of sermons and see for yourself !

    January 26, 2011 at 4:10 pm |
  14. CW

    As far as I'm concerned

    On s-'e-'x topic:
    He said that its wrong to be a hom-'o...and backed it up with saying that script-'ure backs him....I agree.

    On Giving:
    The Lord gives us all resour-'ces...we will be judged one day on what we did with the resour-'ces that our Lord gave us.

    On politics:
    I agree with his stance...most repu-'blic-'ans to try subscribe to some biblical morals...and I said try b/c no prolitician is perfect in that regard.

    January 26, 2011 at 4:04 pm |
  15. Eric Rife

    Religion is intellectually bankrupt and without moral authority. For Joel Osteen to surmise that his wealth is the result of blessings from god, it only follows that said god is extremely selective about who receives his favors. Osteen's unspoken premise is that god favors him ... at the expense of the millions around the world who starve. He's beneath contempt.

    January 26, 2011 at 4:02 pm |
    • numbnut

      Greed is not good. Greed is sinful. You are greedy Osteen.

      January 26, 2011 at 4:22 pm |
  16. Debbie

    I really think its time for our society and government to rethink religon and its money.
    They consume public services but pay not a dime in taxes. Oh and don't tell me they give to the masses – thats bogus. Do you think Osteen's chuch really coughs it up. Oh he might give some of HIS money – but I doub he parts with very much.

    They're leeches.

    January 26, 2011 at 4:01 pm |
  17. Pamela

    I find that many atheists come to spout their anti-Christianity venom on ANY board in which the discussion is faith and belief in Jesus Christ. Read the Bible – it speaks of this very clearly.

    January 26, 2011 at 4:01 pm |
    • Eric G.

      That is a rather simplistic view. I am very interested in why you believe what you do. I am not disrespectful. Please explain to me why you believe what you do? What reality or facts do you base your actions on? If my questioning of your faith makes you uncomfortable and persecuted, have you ever asked yourself why? If you believe it, you should have an answer for any question an atheist like myself could ask.

      January 26, 2011 at 5:33 pm |
  18. Simon and Gar Farkel

    I've seen him on TV (once was enough)- he has always appeared very insincere to me. I do not think much of these mega church ministers that constantly are raking in the money by begging for it

    January 26, 2011 at 3:59 pm |
  19. AK

    Everyone keeps quoting Matthew 19 as the end-all-be-all of the Christianity and weath discussion. Is no one going to point out that Jesus' first miracle was turning water into wine at a huge, expensive party where plenty of wine had already been served? The whole, "You're a Christian, therefore you must be a martyr," mentality people have is extremely bizarre. If all the nay-sayers expected as much out of themselves as they do out of Christians, I think they could make the world a much better place.

    January 26, 2011 at 3:59 pm |
  20. Dino

    Osteen's wife is pretty hot-but she needs a good boob job.

    January 26, 2011 at 3:58 pm |
    • Biff

      And if each and every follower will make a small donation, say $200, God will bless her by righting this wrong.

      January 26, 2011 at 4:33 pm |
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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.