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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. Biggi

    Sorry

    January 26, 2011 at 7:06 pm |
  2. Biggi

    "I distrust those people who know so well what God wants them to do because I notice it always coincides with their own desires."

    Susan B. Anthony

    January 26, 2011 at 7:04 pm |
    • Fuyuko

      This is true.

      January 26, 2011 at 7:11 pm |
  3. Biggi

    I read a nice quote from Susan B. Anthony and I am thinking...

    "I distrust those people who know so well what God wants them to do because I notice it always coincides with their own desires."

    Susan B. Anthony

    January 26, 2011 at 7:04 pm |
  4. NHAZman

    Osteen is one of the more likable of the long term TV preachers. Think back to some of the wretched comments made by the 700s Club's Pat Robinson. Yuk! DUCT TAPE is the only sure way to stop those who talk way too much.

    January 26, 2011 at 7:00 pm |
  5. Villageguy

    So many comments about wealth – you might want to read about Abraham and Job two of the wealthiest people on the planet during their time.

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

    It is not worth arguing about what Jesus said or didn't say given that his words were not written down at the time of his life and his whole myth is a compilation of other prophets and Gods before him. If this snake-oil-salesman becomes wealthy from the ignorance of the masses, then so be it. The real issue is why CNN would give him the forum to spew out his meaningless opinions on subjects he has no qualification to discuss. It's funny how half the population requires this sort of opiate and the other half roots on the sidelines for his downfall in the Swaggart, Baker, Haggard style. Here's an easy math equation: Take a belief, remove logic and science and you have faith. 100 percent pure concentrated faith, ready to ingest.

    January 26, 2011 at 6:59 pm |
    • adiemusdeo

      You forgot the most important part of your equation – adding the opinion of people who are too dense to discern exactly what it is that other people believe, arrogant enough to think their truth should be everyone's truth, and ignorant enough to not respect others beliefs. Oh yes, and don't forget the part where someone who doesn't "get" something laughs at people who do. A sure sign of intellectual superiority. There's some logic for you, you can carry it to your grave. Beyond that, you'll be on your own, but it looks like you're superior human self is okay with that. I hope someone respects your belief, if you actually have one. I have a feeling you'll never run out of cliches.

      January 26, 2011 at 7:14 pm |
  7. John Not

    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."
    –Mother Teresa is rolling in her grave to that one.

    January 26, 2011 at 6:56 pm |
  8. Jim James

    Osteen is a one of those greedy false prophets. I cannot believe that people listen to this man and hand over millions of dollars a year to him ! He lives in a mansion, his wife has servants, and they fly in a private jet. People pay millions of dollars for his books and tapes and CD's. His mother and sister are part of his "church" and are are also millionaires from his organization of greed. He is a cash cow operation ! No one as greedy as Osteen is going to heaven, that is for sure. He is a con artist who talks about religion to make money off of other people's backs. He will meet Satan soon enough !

    January 26, 2011 at 6:53 pm |
  9. Villageguy

    So many comments amount wealth – you might want to read about Abraham and Job Two of the wealthiest people on the planet during their time.

    January 26, 2011 at 6:53 pm |
  10. arenee

    Flora in Houston

    After moving to Houston a few years ago, I contacted Lakewood to see if I could get an appointment with Mr. Osteen for some pre-marital counseling and if he would perform our wedding. I was told that Mr Osteen doesn't meet individually with congregents, he doesn't perform weddings or funerals, and he counsels though his books. I was actually told to buy his books. And videos. I asked what sort of minister doesn't interact with his flock when one asks for some help? They repeatedly told me to buy the books and hung up.

    I was floored. I never heard of anything like this before. I will never attend a mega-church service again since the rich mega-pastors don't seem to want to make any time for their congregent's special spirital needs.

    Jesus always has time for me. Why not Mr. Joel Osteen?

    Flora, did you seriously ask that last question? Seriously? How about because Jesus is Jesus as in God and Joel is Joel as in Man. See the difference? Lakewood has thousands of members and if one on one time is what you were seeking, why did you seek out a Mega Church in the first place? The church has a marriage ministry for people seeking marriage counseling. No, he doesn't perform wedding ceremonies or funerals either. Besides, when you're dead you are DEAD and you won't know who performs your funeral anyways. Mega churches aren't for everyone and that should be okay too. welcome to Houston.

    January 26, 2011 at 6:51 pm |
  11. Jeepers

    He gives me the creeps. He has a crazy looking grin.

    January 26, 2011 at 6:49 pm |
  12. HeavenSent

    Hello CNN folks. Are you ever going to update the techniques to this blog incorporating the edit option? Just wondering since my last post went with a typo and I tried to stop it's sending capabilities, but your system didn't allow that.

    Thank you for your time.

    January 26, 2011 at 6:37 pm |
    • adiemusdeo

      No matter how many times I proof read my draft, I always find the typos AFTER they post! Grrrrr.

      January 26, 2011 at 7:05 pm |
    • Believer

      Same with me lol. I always seem to spot errors once I post but none while I proofread before the post!

      January 26, 2011 at 7:35 pm |
  13. Suzi

    And I used to like and respect this guy. God loves everybody – it doesn't matter if you're straight, gay, white, green, etc. The whole point is that God is love and he doesn't judge. I hope he isn't thinking about running for political office now – why doesn't he spread his wealth with some of the people who really need it!!

    January 26, 2011 at 6:34 pm |
    • Jim

      God Does & Will Judge In Righteousness & Truth. He is Loving wishing that NONE should perish but He will NOT sweep sin under the rug. Look at it this way You have committed murder- The President grants you a full Pardon- If You go out & Murder some one else What Will Happen? Stick Your head between your legs & Kiss Your Behind Goodbye. I recommend you READ
      The book of Revelation- WHY do Gods Judgments fall on the people of earth? Because they would NOT REPENT & TURN from their wicked ways.

      January 26, 2011 at 7:22 pm |
  14. suecall

    shame on all negatives on here joel s show is the best part of my week .it keeps me going and believing

    January 26, 2011 at 6:31 pm |
  15. bub

    just because hes politically incorrect doesnt mean hes bibically incorrect

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

      bub

      just because hes politically incorrect doesnt mean hes bibically incorrect

      bub, Do you know what political correctness is?

      January 26, 2011 at 6:42 pm |
  16. Jack

    This interview will show everyone what kind of a person Piers Morgan is when he asks Joel what his opinion is of the gay lifestyle and then bashing Joel after he answers the question! So many people are envious of Joel but they would not begin to want to live for Christ as Joel clearly does.

    January 26, 2011 at 6:27 pm |
    • deb

      my well thought out, and curtious comment was moderated by this site for reasons unknown to me earlier today. Because this topic has comments of words that words possibly be put together to have bad meanings of some sort, I believe this is why it was eliminated. Words in this article cannot be repeated here in comment even though it sure would be helpful if one could reference to it by using the same words.... I mentioned Mr Morgan as seeming to have an agenda when he put words in the Osteen's mouth by stating that they said they didn't like the mentioned lifestyle, you know what I'm talking about.... They didn't say they didn't like those certain people. Not even once. Just stating God's purpose regarding sin of all sorts, in his word, written by men, as inspired by God. Some books are truly attributed to a specific writer, some who personally knew Jesus. Anyway, Mr Morgan seemed to be attempting to cause a problem where there wasn't one. Didn't wait for a proper answer, and really should think about that. It's a hot topic and there is plenty of hate talk toward those of faith. I would like to repost my comment from earlier, but truly don't know which words could have possibly been unnecceptable. I tried to change the ones I thought were wrong and reposted it. Same thing happened. It is sad the way some are treated and others on this comment site who have truly said incredibly terrible things. The moderation system is not working properly. That I am certain of.

      January 26, 2011 at 7:55 pm |
  17. Rev. P.

    Another smarmy, better-than-thou preacherly snake-oil saleman who equates poverty with defeat.

    January 26, 2011 at 6:22 pm |
  18. Teresa*

    Vaccines Designed to Kill Stupid People

    http://www.morningliberty.com

    Bill Gates says vaccines can help reduce world population

    http://www.naturalnews.com/029911_vaccines_Bill_Gates.html

    (NaturalNews) In a recent TED conference presentation, Microsoft billionaire Bill Gates, who has donated hundreds of millions of dollars to new vaccine efforts, speaks on the issue of CO2 emissions and its effects on climate change. He presents a formula for tracking CO2 emissions as follows: CO2 = P x S x E x C.

    P = People
    S = Services per person
    E = Energy per service
    C = CO2 per energy unit

    Then he adds that in order to get CO2 to zero, "probably one of these numbers is going to have to get pretty close to zero."

    Following that, Bill Gates begins to describe how the first number — P (for People) — might be reduced. He says:

    "The world today has 6.8 billion people… that's headed up to about 9 billion. Now if we do a really great job on new vaccines, health care, reproductive health services, we could lower that by perhaps 10 or 15 percent."

    You can watch this yourself at:
    http://www.naturalnews.tv/v.asp?v=A…

    January 26, 2011 at 6:19 pm |
  19. UV

    Well ... what all of you are doing right now is JUDGING!! ... to which none of you have the right!
    Let GOD be the judge of what OSTEEN or anyone does! If you wish to believe OSTEEN'S word, go for it as he is not giving the wrong message, he only tells you to have faith in yourself and love God! If you do not agree with OSTEEN, then just mind your own business ... no one is forcing you to believe anyone! It's not even about OSTEEN, its about YOU being a pure soul .
    Are YOU? ....

    January 26, 2011 at 6:17 pm |
  20. Farticus

    I pooped my own god out.

    January 26, 2011 at 6:09 pm |
    • a guy from lebanon

      If atheists respected our belief, they would write Bible with a capital letter. Seems that they don't.
      Just saying.

      January 26, 2011 at 6:32 pm |
    • a guy from lebanon

      Sorry that comment wasn't directed to you.

      January 26, 2011 at 6:33 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.