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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. deji

    I just want to thank Joel for helping me to retain a religious side. I had been so disgusted with all the acting and sobbing and all the Spiritus Heavenus and Eloi Eloi, and other shouts and furies of the religious bazaar peddled by many of these famous hypocritical evangelists. Joel made religious likable, once more, and not some frightening guilt and threats of some hereatfer, hosted by some bullying God and all. He made it easy to call God,-DAD. I had listened to religious leaders and seen what they did, including the Catholic Fathers and their young victims, until I stopped listening. It was then I heard somebody, without listening, and it was Joel. CNN should be talking about the young victims of religion, not Joel"s hard earned reward

    January 26, 2011 at 6:05 pm |
  2. Not having it

    They are both scam artists preying on the weak.

    January 26, 2011 at 6:04 pm |
  3. Rod

    We know very little about Jesus and what he said, but if we take the most mentioned themes in the New Testament he was all about helping the poor and sickly, helping those who cant help themselves. Given the millions of sick, starving unclothed people on this earth I'd have to say that Joel isn't even a follower of Jesus. And while the preacher man doesn't have to be poor to be good, check the house and the duds, etc., etc. Jesus has a dirty cloak and a pair of sandals to his name. These two guys aren't even in the same realm of spirituality.

    January 26, 2011 at 5:57 pm |
  4. drew

    don't think there is anything wrong with a pastor being wealthy, especially when he donates to charity, but there is something strange about a man of God who markets and sells his sermons. Should a preacher charge those hes preaching to for the privilage of listining? I would feel more comfortable about his wealth if his books and DVDs were produced and distributed without profit (which they obviously are not, since he has made tens of millions)...

    January 26, 2011 at 5:57 pm |
  5. PSAztec

    Eric G, I think you need to seperate a President's duty as commander in chief from their chartible giving. How many lives did JFK give away?

    January 26, 2011 at 5:54 pm |
    • Eric G.

      One, his own. Think of how many Soldiers lives would have been saved if Mr. Bush just matched what JFK gave. Besides, JFK was not in the conversation. You were comparing Obama to Bush. Try to stay on topic. Have another cup of tea.

      January 26, 2011 at 5:59 pm |
  6. T3chsupport

    You can give away all you want... but you'd better start greasing up that camel and needle!

    January 26, 2011 at 5:53 pm |
  7. NWGirl2

    Be love not hate. How you choose to get there is your business, and your business alone. There are many paths. Choose the one that works for you. As long as you're not hurting anyone else, your path is your business.

    January 26, 2011 at 5:52 pm |
  8. PSAztec

    Gee, I guess you cannot write an opinion that is polite but maybe on a different viewpoint without being moderated... Those darn special words. Big Brother in action.

    January 26, 2011 at 5:51 pm |
  9. Believer

    I think there needs to be a clarification in the passage about the rich man and the camel going through an eye of the needle. Jesus is not literally interested in every believer to sell all their possessions. He's saying that metaphorically to show an example of one's love for money. Jesus wants you to place God as the #1 priority in your life. Since the rich man placed his wealth and riches as the top priority and love in his life, Jesus tested him to give that love up so he can see God as #1. The rich man was not able to do so and hence the conclusion that it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle.

    Jesus is basically teaching us that money and wealth (when we have an abundance of it) clouds our vision towards the Kingdom of Heaven. He is saying the love for money becomes so strong that even a camel can go through the eye of a needle before an indulged rich man can give up his wealth.
    Jesus is not asking for Osteen to give up all his possessions to enter the Kingdom. The Bible also states that God wants prosperity in our lives and that includes wealth, education, social, etc.

    People need to realize (and stop being so ignorant) that they often judge what the Bible and only take it with their own interpretations. If non-believers have questions about the Bible, they should ask questions to find out answers from someone who has studied the Bible or is a believer. There are just so many people that are quick to conclude certain things by reading one or two sentences in the Bible when they don't even know the context or the true meaning of what the sentence(s) is actually saying.
    Please, think before you speak 🙂 If you don't believe in the Bible, then that's your own opinion. Don't bash others because they believe in something that's not aligned with what you believe in.

    January 26, 2011 at 5:46 pm |
    • drew

      Jesus doesn't require his followers to live in absolute poverty but he also didn't chrage people to hear him speak. It absolutly is morally wrong for him to market his sermons for profit, even if he does give some of that profit away. Hes denying the word of god to those who don't have money for DVDs and books.

      January 26, 2011 at 5:53 pm |
    • Eric G.

      So, let me get this one straight. First, you provide your interpretation of the "camel/needle" story, then you rip everyone a new one because they should not try to interpret the bible because they are ignorant.

      Hey, they are your words. Please let me know if I misinterpreted them in a nice way. You don't need to call me ignorant. You big bully....

      January 26, 2011 at 5:54 pm |
    • Believer

      @drew, I don't really believe in everything Osteen stands for so some of the things he says and does. I do believe that people should not have to be charged for the word of Christ.
      @Eric, I wasn't saying that no one should try to interpret the Bible. I was saying they shouldn't be so quick to speak about something they read in the Bible before they find out what it is actually saying. People always criticize things in the Bible because it is not something they like to read or they misinterpret it. There are many comments alone on this Osteen article that are pure misinterpretations of the Bible. Non-believers can try and interpret the Bible all they want but they shouldn't bash and criticize Christians because they don't believe or misinterpret the Bible. I'm definitely not trying to be a bully here. Just stating my opinion on things 🙂

      January 26, 2011 at 6:10 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Amen.

      January 26, 2011 at 6:16 pm |
    • Eric G.

      @Believer: Who's interpretation of the bible should people listen to? If the bible is the word of your god, why would it be open to interpretation at all? You are taking a position of superiority over non-believers. If you and I both read something in the bible and have different interpretations of the text, is your interpretation correct because you believe the text is the word of your god?

      January 26, 2011 at 6:25 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Eric G, in my life time, non-believers prove to me they've never read the Bible, never care to read the bible, insist they have read it and then continue the need to insult untruths towards those that follow the teachings of Jesus' truth. With that said, most Christians know it takes a life time to read the Bible. As long as we live, we will never know everything inside His teachings. That's just a fact. As we mature and grow in His teachings, the same scriptures we read in our youth, 20s, 30s etc. unravels more and more of His truth no matter how many times we read the same passage(s) and surrounding passeges. It's just His uniqueness of truth. The more we seek, the more He reveals His truth to us.

      As far as I'm concerned, the Bible is the most fascinating book ever written.

      Amen.

      January 26, 2011 at 6:33 pm |
    • Eric G.

      @HeavenSent: I agree, the Bible is a fascinating book. I have read it, cover to cover. I have also read the Quran and the Torah. Perhaps you have not met enough atheists? Most non-believers I know have read the Bible. I would offer to you that it is not hard to find a non-believer who has read the Bible, but it would be hard to find a non-believer who reads the bible with the same level of bias as a believer. The difference is that a non-believer will look to validate the information through the testing of evidence presented, while a believer will accept in advance that whatever they read is fact, regardless of the lack of verifiable evidence. Believers and non-believers can both be condecending, rude and disrespectful. I am trying to find believers who can rationally explain their faith without dogma or logical fallicies. Please explain to me why you believe what you do using verifiable evidence and facts. I ask this with all respect and I anxiously await your response.

      January 26, 2011 at 7:00 pm |
    • Believer

      @Eric, I understand what you are trying to say. I'm not saying you should believe in everything I say and all my interpretations. What I am saying is it could be helpful to get insight from what the Bible is saying from a believer who has studied the word. HeavenSent is correct though. The truth is more and more revealed as we read the Bible more and more...and through living the daily life. The Bible is not a book that was made to create controversy. It is a collection of real events and happenings that outline the truth. If you're ever looking for an answer, you will find it in the Bible. It might not be in the context you expect it to be (because the interpretation of languages changes slightly over time) but you will find it. God speaks to those who believe and choose to follow His will. What is written is (in my opinion) the set truth. Of course since you don't believe, you can think otherwise. The Bible is God-breathed so everything in it comes from the Lord.

      January 26, 2011 at 7:24 pm |
    • Obadiah

      Eric G,

      If you don't believe things in this world without verifiable evidence and facts, then how do you expect to comprehend things of the spritual world which require faith in things unseen?

      January 26, 2011 at 8:27 pm |
    • Nacho1

      I believe in a higher power........a higher authority over all the universe....however...it might be wise to do a background investigation on all those who wrote and re-wrote and re-wrote the bible...............it is a great book but it is also an imperfect book..........there are a lot of contradictions in the bible............we all need to look more deeply than simply to open the cover of a bible and say.........there is all there is to that..............life is more complex than that.............anyway my friend.....you and nobody else will ever know the TRUTH till you die and face the truth whatever it really is...........your bible is NOT a passport to heaven.................

      January 26, 2011 at 9:55 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Eric G, As far back as I can recall, I've always felt the presence of God. Long before I first attended church services as a child, heard scriptures or read His word, I knew Him. Now, as an adult, I know Him by His teachings.

      January 26, 2011 at 10:03 pm |
  10. Eric G.

    I was an atheist until the Hindu's convinced me I was God.

    January 26, 2011 at 5:44 pm |
    • Brent

      Hey Eric G. – been enjoying your posts. Nothing like religion to get people's blood boiling.

      January 26, 2011 at 6:18 pm |
    • Eric G.

      Thanks Brent! I want my own show on CNN!

      January 26, 2011 at 6:29 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Eric G, that sin of PRIDE is usually the first sin that humans need to break free from.

      Amen.

      January 26, 2011 at 7:56 pm |
  11. Joe

    He is a good personal motivational speaker. Why to drag God into that?

    January 26, 2011 at 5:43 pm |
  12. Shane

    All you ignorant goobers need to shut up. If this man is for God and pure hearted the fruit will bear out. If he is a con artist, then that fruit will also bear out. Knock off your ridiculous assertations and opinions and just watch. Don't listen to what someone says to see what they are, watch what they do. Ta rds like you people makes me not want to be a believer or a non believer.

    January 26, 2011 at 5:43 pm |
    • Eric G.

      Wow Shane. "Tards"? Really? By the way, if you are neither a believer or non-believer, what does that make you?

      January 26, 2011 at 5:47 pm |
    • Shane

      Sane. At least I can differentiate common sense from blind faith or blind skepticism. Is there a God? yup, nope,yup, nope, yup, nope, yup, nope. Do pastors do bad things? yup, nope, yup, nope, yup, nope, yup, nope. Political position? Lib, Con, Lib, Con, Lib, Con, Lib, Con, Lib, Con. LOL! sound familiar to all the intellectuals? W/E

      January 26, 2011 at 5:53 pm |
    • LJ

      Meanwhile while everyone is waiting he will continue to make millions selling himself under the disguise of religion. In this economy many people shouldn't be buying his books and DVDs. What they should be doing is reading their Bible and saving their money.

      January 26, 2011 at 6:12 pm |
  13. HeavenSent

    Susy, Jesus teaches us everything we need to know in how to live a righteous life. This includes morals/ethics, righteousness, spiritual completeness, wisdom, honesty, security in who we are as an individual ... all this and much more. He wrote us a letter how to be the best that He wants us to be while living in human form. It’s His blueprint of how He wants us to live our best life. He did not send us down here to go solo, leaving us out in the cold to fend for ourselves. Have you read it? It’s called the Bible. If you haven’t read it, preachers, pastors, priests, rabbis are all messengers of Jesus' truth to ensure His teachings continue.

    Peace.

    January 26, 2011 at 5:41 pm |
    • CatholicMom

      HeavenSent,
      You didn’t mean that Jesus wrote the Bible while he was in human form, did you? Jesus never wrote anything down nor did He tell anyone else to write either.

      January 29, 2011 at 3:08 pm |
  14. Randy

    A few people need to re-read the article. He does not draw a salary from the church. He earns money as an author. That money is taxed. Prejudice is wrong – all the time.

    January 26, 2011 at 5:40 pm |
    • drew

      He doesnt earn money from the church, (from the people close enough to drive out and listen to him) but he does market and sell his sermons worldwide....I don't remember jesus charging people at the door to hear what he had to say and I do think its wrong to turn a profit the way Osteen has. If i cant aford his DVD and dont live close enough to hear him preach should I be left without the word of God?

      January 26, 2011 at 5:45 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Thank you Randy. I was just about to write the same truth.

      Peace.

      January 26, 2011 at 5:47 pm |
  15. drew

    I don't think there is anything wrong with a pastor being wealthy, especially when he donates to charity, but there is something strange about a man of God who markets and sells his sermons. Should a preacher charge those hes preaching to for the privilage of listining? I would feel more comfortable about his wealth if his books and DVDs were produced and distributed without profit (which they obviously are not, since he has made tens of millions)....

    January 26, 2011 at 5:39 pm |
  16. disciple

    God never said no man of weath would enter the kingdom of God. Read your bilble. Too many on here are religious and do not study all the scriptures. Even his Disciples were wealthy. Do you think these men abanadoned their families and left them to go hungry and be without Shelter. The disciples were concern bout their own salvation in regards to wealth. When Jesus tells them about a Rich man and a camel, their reyply was then whom could be saved? They( themselves) were very wealthy. Jesus reply that with men(having riches would be impossible but not with those whom trust wan in the Lord.)

    January 26, 2011 at 5:35 pm |
  17. drew

    I don't think there is anything wrong with a pastor being wealthy, especially when he donates to charity, but there is something strange about a man of God who markets and sells his sermons. Should a preacher charge those hes preaching to for the privilage of listining? I would feel more comfortable about his wealth if his books and DVDs were produced and distributed without profit (which they obviously are not, since he has made tens of millions).

    January 26, 2011 at 5:33 pm |
  18. Mrs. Jones

    I LOVE how liberal thinkers can completely bash conservatives for agreeing with the Bible and sticking to their beliefs when they believe something is immoral...but you tell them they're wrong and you're being soooo judgemental. So you can say we're wrong, but when we judge the sin-not the sinner, we are suddenly idiots..... Bet you don't even know WHY you believe what you believe, it's so pathetic.

    January 26, 2011 at 5:30 pm |
    • Observer

      A recent poll test showed that the average atheist and agnostic knows more about the Bible than the average Christian. Now you know why they believe what they do.

      January 26, 2011 at 6:00 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Observer, first, anyone can read the Bible. Second, first rule of thumb is to humble yourself in order to comprehend His truth. Third, after going humble, you can then comprehend His truth. After that, you can abide (apply) in His truth into your life.

      Have any of your atheists/agnostics done the above? Christians that practice Jesus’ truth know that the ego is a big problem while starting to study His wisdom. The sin of Pride ... not giving up one’s ego which will always go against His truth. That too is written in the Bible. It's natural for humans not wanting to relinquish control of their thoughts or anywhere in their lives. Truth is. God is in control.

      January 26, 2011 at 7:48 pm |
    • Observer

      Yes, anyone can read the Bible. So why do fewer Christians read it than atheists and agnostics? It's easy to see who has given more thought in making decisions.

      January 26, 2011 at 9:18 pm |
  19. ruremorgue

    How does this work? This dweeb has his own church. He tells other dweebs that rich people are rich because god loves them, then collects the dweebs' money to support himself in his mansion. Sounds like *fine* gig to me!! More power to him!!!

    January 26, 2011 at 5:23 pm |
  20. Tony

    This guy is a False Prophet, the BIble talks about them and condems them. If you really want to understand what the Bible says , read it for yourself then find a church that isn't afraid to talk about sins and where you will go if you don't put your faith in Jesus and what He did for us at the cross. It is an insult to His Word to use it to try and get rich, your soul is worth a lot more than anything this world can produce.

    January 26, 2011 at 5:16 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.