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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. Whoops!

    Popcorn anyone?

    January 27, 2011 at 3:21 am |
  2. CharlieG

    I still have never seen a camel that could fit through the eye of a needle. Sleazeball.

    January 27, 2011 at 1:39 am |
  3. DAVINCIKODE

    The last people on earth that will understand anything about religion, spirituality, God are Americans. They are too busy playing with their material gadgets. Probably need a bunch of magnitude 9.0 earthquakes to wake up out of Hollywood, then let's talk scripture, God, spirituality. It's no use arguing serious matters with spoiled materialists. Just wait when it hits ya, son. Then let's talk, if you still have a voice left.

    January 27, 2011 at 1:25 am |
  4. Just beleive

    "IT IS FINISHED" -Jesus

    FINISHEDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDD

    January 27, 2011 at 1:18 am |
  5. Big Bubba

    God is a flamer!

    January 27, 2011 at 1:01 am |
  6. Big Bubba

    bunch of koolaid drinking idiots! Their is no god!.

    January 27, 2011 at 1:01 am |
  7. JH

    slick tool... he would have made a great used car sales person... did you catch "I didn't go to seminary.... "
    you might say, so what if he never went to seminary.... would you go to a doctor that never went to med school?
    It is not the same? I don't think so... he is a tool and the ones that are following him are bigger tools.

    January 27, 2011 at 12:39 am |
  8. enufzenuf

    Joel doesn't need to apologize for his wealth. He simply needs to acknowledge that Christianity is against collecting wealth thereby rendering himself as a not so good Christian. Signed: A Good Christian.

    January 27, 2011 at 12:30 am |
  9. Chuck

    Just another rich preacherman who conveniently ignores Matthew 19:21 (Jesus answered, "If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.")

    January 26, 2011 at 11:51 pm |
  10. Shaun

    God is coming back for his people! The signs are everywhere.

    January 26, 2011 at 11:50 pm |
  11. Shaun

    God is coming back! people need to get their lives right. The signs are everywhere

    January 26, 2011 at 11:48 pm |
  12. Mimi

    So someone made the following comment...."Rich evangelist pointing out things that he considers a sin".....smh it amazes me how people say HE calls it sin...as if HE(osteen) wrote the bible!!!! If u don't agree with the Bible that's on u but how are you going 2 be mad at a man when someone asks him what he believes and he responds honestly!!! Why r people so offended by someone else's belief????

    January 26, 2011 at 11:26 pm |
  13. Jim James

    Osteen is very happy that he is rich and living like KING TUT. This is NOT how Mother Teresa lived. Osteen is "pimping the bible" and "fleecing" his congregation. He lives in a mansion, his wife has servants, and he flies in a private jet. I bet he has never spoken to a poor person on a city street and given that person a few dollars for food. This man is nothing more than an ACTOR who talks about the bible. He is too theatrical for me !! I prefer people like Mother Teresa.

    January 26, 2011 at 10:59 pm |
  14. shayne the christian

    What was the point of Piers commenting in such detail about their clothing and how well they are dressed? What did he expect them to come in rags? I mean come on they got dressed nicely out of respect.. Arrogant people boil my biscuit!!

    January 26, 2011 at 10:27 pm |
  15. Teresa

    Just like a Honda automobile has an owners manual so Pastor Joel is communicating the Bible as an owners manual. If you don't follow either there will be consequences. I believe and follow both owners manuals. He is not the author of either just the spokesman.

    January 26, 2011 at 10:22 pm |
  16. Brian

    Wow! Wen you read all the comments above it is amzing to me how many stupid people there are in this country, there are some really good future politicans in this crowd. Fear mongers, conservatives, libs, good sound bites.

    Hey look you listened to the interview, the guys is not apologetic, he is a businessman, he is a human being, he works hard, he makes lots of money and has not been involved in any scandals. What is wrong with that? this is america. The people that purchase his books do so on there own accord, the people that give to his church are not forced. Futhermore the mission of the christian church is to spread the word of GOd, RIght? Are they doing that?

    Here is a quick lesson in giving for those of you that feel giving to this church is like throwing your money in the trash, there are a few. It is simply the responsiility of the giver to be faithful and give what they believe is right, this could be time, money, stuff, etc. The organization that receives the gift or offering is to use it as they are commanded. Then the God I believe in can work through us to spread the word, which this church does to 7 million people a week.

    So my point is what is cesars is his, what is Gods, he will get (everything), and what is Joel's is Joels? The question is how can we learn from these types of people, why do they excel and the people above (the negative ones) remain poor and bitter?

    January 26, 2011 at 10:19 pm |
  17. tallulah13

    Back in the 70s and 80s, my mom had these neighbors. They were an elderly couple, amazingly nice people and devout christians. They believed deeply in the ministry of Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker. They donated what they could, but when the Bakker's sent them a letter, inviting them to sell their home, donate the money to the Bakker ministry, then buy a home at the Bakker compound, they finally realized that they were being scammed.

    I'm sorry. I can't believe that any TV minister is more interested in religion than money. It angers me that good people like my mother's neighbors were and are being scammed. If your faith is strong, you don't need some money-grubbing preacher to tell you what to think. If you must hear words spoken to maintain your faith, find a local church, if you can't physically attend, see if they tape the sermons and loan them to the housebound. Don't sell your soul to a con artist.

    Yes, I am an atheist, but I despise thieves of all types.

    January 26, 2011 at 10:03 pm |
  18. Frank Tomi owner of BibleStudySpace.Com

    Frabj Tomi owner of BibleStudySpace.Com

    Piers is joke, he thinks the The Prosperity Gospel is ok, its a fales gospel, cult. Most of the christ church knows they are preaching a false gospel. . On my site, we have a group called ( Heresies The Prosperity Gospel ) because it is heresies. Where did you get this nut Prers, we will never watch this show again. And I am sending out over 50.000 emails to all my members on bible study space. You want to promote this cult, we will never watch this show again.

    Check the internet Wiki encyclopedia, the The Prosperity Gospel, Prosperity theology (also known as prosperity doctrine, the health and wealth gospel, or the prosperity gospel). Its not the gosple it is a cult.

    Do your home work

    We want to expose the Prosperity Gospel and the Preachers who are perverting the true gospel of Christ. False teachers like Joel Osteen, Kenneth Copeland, Creflo Dollar, TBN, and many others. What is it that God says about money and the Church?

    January 26, 2011 at 10:00 pm |
  19. jordygordy

    @ servres blue

    Nobosy can judge who is a sinner and who isn't, the holy spirit will convict of your sins and you'll realize what they are and whether or not you ask for forgiviness of that sin is up to you

    January 26, 2011 at 9:56 pm |
  20. Mary S

    Boring. Ignorant. Can we get someone on who has something to say?

    January 26, 2011 at 9:43 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.