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. Lynn

    I ams so tired of these Pastor's being bullied over the money issue. There are good and bad Pastors just like in anything else. I don't know what kind of virtue people see in poverty. I grew up the daughter of a Pastor and the good church people expected him to be here, there, everywhere while they paid him hardly anything and he worked a full time job to take care of his family. We were always struggling and barely making it. Pastor Osteen has written his books so why shouldn't he profit from it? Pastors want good lives for their families just as you want for yours.

    January 26, 2011 at 9:42 pm |
  2. piershypocrit

    Joel and his wife work hard and inspire many. Piers appears obsessed with their wealth. Joel has a unique skill of oration and quick thought. He does far more good with these talents than athletes who earn as much or more for less work. Do we think Piers deserves the money he receives? Let there be full disclosure before he obsesses on the earnings of his guests. Joel contributes far more to society than Piers does. I'm Jewish, but the world would be a better place with more Joels and fewer useless talking heads.

    January 26, 2011 at 9:40 pm |

    Piers Morgan show is not gonna last to long. His line of questioning is irritating to the audience. Not cool.

    January 26, 2011 at 9:35 pm |
    • shayne the christian

      i sure hope he doesnt last past feb. he is not good at his job at alll!!

      January 26, 2011 at 10:16 pm |
  4. Pat Foster

    Piers is driving me nuts. Boy do I miss Larry. The skill that Piers is missing is learning to ask a question and then let the guest speak. Piers interupts while people are speaking. Larry always let the guest speak. Never rushed them. I always feel like Piers is rushing the interview. Very annoying. I don't want to hear him I want to hear the guest. I think Joel is one of the great persons on this earth. I put him up there with Oprah. I do disagree with his view on gays. They are Gods children too. Joel needs to get a little more education on this subject, There I said my piece, Shut the hell up Piers and let people talk.

    January 26, 2011 at 9:35 pm |
    • shayne the christian

      agreed to this big time! he is very annoying and i think they should give this spot to someone else.. he is good at asking the hard questions but #1 he doesn't know how to let them speak and #2 he doesn't know how to move on after he has gotten his answer.. He beats a sleeping horse.. He should def be replaced!

      January 26, 2011 at 10:15 pm |
  5. val

    Call me crazy if you like but I give 10% of my income to the church, I do it so that others can hear about Jesus, so that we can help those that are poor and in need and because God instructed me to. It has blest me far more than it cost me. Osteen does not draw a tax free salary. He pays taxes on the money he earns from his books. He gives money to the church and to others. Why is it wrong for him to be financially successful? If any of you who complained had that much money would you really give it all away? How much do you give away now? There is a word for this: hypocrisy.

    January 26, 2011 at 9:35 pm |
    • shayne the christian

      agreed! 🙂

      January 26, 2011 at 10:12 pm |
  6. Theo

    The man is a con-artist pure and simple. A hundred years ago he'd have been selling snake oil... leeching off the poor. When are Americans going to wake up to these fraudsters?

    January 26, 2011 at 9:34 pm |
    • shayne the christian

      He wrote books and studied the word and made DVD's and you could do it to.. he made his money legit.. and the fact that you may or may not have any talent for anything causes you to be jealous.. If you had any faith in the Lord Jesus and he moved and worked in your life then you would not have any room to make such comments.. And if you had any talents that made you bigg bigg bucks and you didn't give it away then how would you feel if people called you a fraud or trying to steal from people!?? What do you say about sports players or actors?? they have talent and they make lots of money and they don't give it away! so what does that make them? You are a Joke Book! I bet your strongly into politics? lol

      January 26, 2011 at 10:11 pm |
  7. shayne the christian

    Piers is so obnoxious that it is ridiculous. He is so stuck on material and tring to make Joel all about material and Joel wont let him..

    January 26, 2011 at 9:32 pm |
  8. sandra

    I wonder how many of us give to the poor what we should. The bible also states judge not least ye be judged. Jealousy is a terrible thing.

    January 26, 2011 at 9:32 pm |
  9. Sue

    I like Joel, I've been doing what he's been teaching and I can say I'm in a lot better place right now. He just simply teaches about how I must be positive and how great God is. For you all,the haters of Joel, you can just simply ignore him and move on 🙂

    January 26, 2011 at 9:21 pm |
    • Johnnyb52

      Your not suppose to listen to Joel but to the leading of the Holy Spirit. Huge difference between Joel and his dad, Joel should be ashamed as should you.

      January 26, 2011 at 9:35 pm |
    • shayne the christian

      all though your comment is sweet and i am sure Joel would appreciate it.. I don't know if he would agree.. i am thinking that although you mean well your focus should be to follow the teachings of our Father and his son and Not Joels father and his son.. Although he may be a good mentor.. the only way to get the unfiltered word is to get it from the source. May God Bless and keep you!

      January 26, 2011 at 10:05 pm |
  10. Chip

    “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?

    Thats hogwash! He is both Judging and selecting one part of scripture and not the other. What about the scripture that says not to eat shellfish, or the scripture that says to stone your wife if she is not a virgin when you take her to her marriage bed.

    January 26, 2011 at 9:16 pm |
  11. jo in AZ

    What if all that he said is true? You know that Jesus can't be just a "good teacher" as He himself said He was the Son of God. What if that is true? What if all that He said and those that followed him stated the truth too? If God is really God and He made the rules, how can we argue with that? If we say no to Him and live a lower life than what was intended for us and it hurts us and someone tells us the truth they are to be despised and hated? ....maybe crucified?

    What if God really does love us so much that He let us know by giving us the "play book" so to speak of what would hurt us and what would cause us to the happiest is this life and the life to come, and that "doing what feels good" is not always the best that we can be and that we are weak and make mistakes, yet He still loves us enought that "while we were yet sinners Christ died for us" and that He gives us every chance to choose Him and this "best life", ...yet some of us are still bent on living our way, a lower life than what we were meant to be, then griping and cursing at those that have bent their will to God's will and are now happier than us, more blessed than us and yes.. have more money than us.

    January 26, 2011 at 8:50 pm |
  12. replicantMAN

    Just wait until his scandal comes out. It always does.

    January 26, 2011 at 8:40 pm |
  13. Chad

    Those of you who have a problem with a Christian being rich do not know the scriptures and do not understand that we are under a new covenant, the abrahamic covenant. Genesis 13:2 "Abram was very rich in livestock, in silver, and in gold."

    Who do you think made Abram rich? Jesus himself was rich. People cast lots for his clothes and the wise men made his parent's rich. He only became poor at the cross. On earth God provided all his needs. "And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:19.

    2 Corinthians 8:9 "For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich." The context here is physical.

    All of you who feel God's best should be working 2nd jobs are promoting self-righteousness and false humility. We glorify God by accepting the finished work at the Cross and all Jesus died to give us. Jesus Christ is our righteousness. 2 Corinthians 5:21
    "For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him."

    January 26, 2011 at 8:34 pm |
  14. warriorrob

    Pay attention...The man does not make any money from the church. He makes all of his money from books and DVDs that people buy because they are interested in what he has to say..Stop hating...

    January 26, 2011 at 8:31 pm |
    • shayne the christian


      January 26, 2011 at 10:25 pm |
  15. Agnus Dei

    This is the same article, but with added flair. I really value or believe what a Television Evangelical Preacher of a Mega Church in Texas, who didn't go to seminary, has to say. Come on! Also, the article never talked about fornication as a whole just being gay, which is an old controversy. I get it the book of Leviticus states, " 'Being gay' is an abomination!" Christians misunderstand the verse, which is talking about how Priest would fornicate with young boys in the temple, and this act was an abomination. Don't take my word of this factoid, read some Biblical commentary.
    There's nothing wrong with religion, but not questioning your faith, religious leaders/teachers, or taking everything at face value is dangerous. Learn to think for yourself and form your own opinions and beliefs, not what religious leaders and governments tell you to think. Not saying be Anti-establishment or Sacrilegious, or even that conforming is a bad thing, but critical thinking is must to make the world a better place.

    January 26, 2011 at 8:21 pm |
  16. SoSad

    Piers Morgan what an interviewer, is there any interviewers that were born in the USA. CNN picks a limey? Wow, ask those tough questions Morgan!

    January 26, 2011 at 8:19 pm |
  17. Fred

    So that makes Osteen a sinner to think it's a sin! Bottom line: We are all sinners then, so what the H...!

    January 26, 2011 at 8:16 pm |
    • Justamom

      We ARE all sinners. That's the point. That's why Jesus came, because no one is free of sin. I've always thought that was one of the main purposes of the Old Testament, to show us how flawed human beings really are. (One example of the good with the bad: King David.) Does that make us horrible, awful people? No, although that's why the world is the way it is.

      January 27, 2011 at 11:36 am |
  18. JT

    This guy is nothing but a hustler, goes to show how many fools are in the world listening to his B.S.

    January 26, 2011 at 8:14 pm |
    • shayne the christian

      your ignorance is showing.. you might want to tuck that in!

      January 26, 2011 at 10:18 pm |
  19. Me

    Why are you all arguing over a fairy tale anyway???

    January 26, 2011 at 8:14 pm |
  20. Dan

    It's a shame CNN feels the need to pimp this Morgan guy by giving the hate and bigotry of this "christian" airtime.

    January 26, 2011 at 8:13 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.