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. ffemtp


    January 27, 2011 at 11:11 am |
  2. Jimmy Tortellini

    It's only a matter of time until we find out that this guy is having an affair with another man.

    January 27, 2011 at 10:45 am |
  3. Freddy Miano

    Someone once told me that different persons of Christ are gifted in very different ways and personalities. These people use their gifts to spread the gospel and The Lord prevails hence the coming through of The book of Romans 8: 28. Joel Often is a great man of God using his gift to spread the gospel.

    January 27, 2011 at 10:43 am |
  4. JonC

    A Calvinist in the 21st Century, a religion invented in the 16th century to justify royalty – the rich and powerful were rich and powerful because they were God's choosen – called predestination (pre-selected at birth) it beat out the Catholics in being tolerant – under John Calvin's Predestination nothing you did during life mattered – if your rich, the sign of predestination – you already have your ticket to heaven. And this works with Jesus how? Believe in Jeff or believe in Jesus.

    January 27, 2011 at 10:30 am |
  5. Michael Wong

    Jesus says "sell all your possessions and give your money to the poor". Joel Osteen hears "live in a 17,000 square foot house with a fleet of luxury cars and private jets, but give a little bit of your vast wealth to charity and call it even".

    January 27, 2011 at 10:14 am |
  6. johnnyleen

    I dunno. My g*ydar always beeps when I see a picture of Osteen.

    January 27, 2011 at 9:52 am |
  7. Tayo

    What is wrong with prosperity gospel?. It's totally biblical. For those who don't like prosperity gospel, should listen to the devil's own poverty gospel.

    January 27, 2011 at 9:38 am |
  8. longerviw1

    REPLY TO PHIL: If you dont have faith or hope then you are right evrything is BS. Your family, your childrens family and your children's children's family are meaningless survivors of evolution and nothing more. You can talk about love and helping others all you want but in the final analysis they are just chemical survival reactions to the evolutionary affects on our brains. I have no opinion on this Osteen guy other than he is just one person who may be a fraud or true believer but no more important in his ideas than anyone else. THINK ABOUT IT YOU KNOW I AM RIGHT

    January 27, 2011 at 9:13 am |
    • Eric G.

      That is a very simplistic way to put it, but yes, you are right. You are confusing two separate issues. Our legacy is defined by genetics and our social traditions. Both are subject to evolution. Hypothetically, if proof and evidence existed that confirmed that there is no god, would believers think it is acceptable to kill, steal, lie etc....?

      January 27, 2011 at 9:31 am |
  9. bush limbush

    Wow, the simple fact that osteen voted for mccain and palin totally blows his credability out of the water. He is RIPPING PEOPLE OFF. WAKE UP YOU RELIGIOUS FOOLS!

    January 27, 2011 at 9:06 am |
    • HeavenSent

      Eric G., next time I visited the zoo to see the Apes, Chimps and all the other monkey family, I say a big HI for you to your family members that didn't evolve yet.

      Talk about the blind leading the blind with this theory!

      January 27, 2011 at 5:54 pm |
    • Eric G.

      HeavenSent: Thank you for proving my point that you make an argument from ignorance. I will say it one more time for the people in the cheap seats. Evolution theory is fact because the evidence to support it has been verified. I can provide references where you can educate yourself if you are interested. But then again, I do not think that a lack of access to verifiable evidence is your problem. Either you deny that the evidence exists, which makes you dishonest, or you lack the capacity to understand it, which makes you ignorant. Please let me know which of these two options your position is based on.

      One day, I researched and reviewed all of the evidence available to support the creation theory. When I was finishded, I realized two things.
      1. No evidence to support creation theory is verifiable.
      2. When I had finished looking at all the evidence used to support creation theory, I still had two hours before lunch time.

      January 28, 2011 at 7:28 am |

    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.
    I AGREE, not to mention several times during the BROADCAST....HIS WIFE CALLED HIM PERFECT. He said he never had a drink, then corrected himself and said 1 time I had wine I didnt like it, NEVER smoked, NEVER dated anyone until he met his wife. I MEAN ABSOULETLY PERFECT, THE ONLY PERFECT HUMAN ON THE EARTH, which tells me something is wrong. Then he contridicted himself several times from forgiveness to IDOLS. Then later on we find his children HAVE IDOLS! I LOVE HOW PIERS MAKES LIARS OUT OF THESE CELEBS AND THEY DONT EVEN KNOW IT! THE WIFE LOOKS LIKE SHE ALSO ENJOYS PLENTY OF PLASTIC SURGERY!!!!!!!!!!!!

    January 27, 2011 at 9:04 am |
  11. Flabber-gasted big time

    I long for the day when most Americans can say with me, out loud.....


    It clearly is true by reading many of the posts on here this morning. How about thinking for yourself? You might as well be praying to the Great Pumpkin, what is the difference?
    And do not throw the Bible at me, its a fariry tale just like Cinderella. It was written in a time when we had zero knowledge about how this world works, thus we made up 'Gods" for the explaination. Lightening? Thuder? Oh, its just Zeus up there, no biggie!

    Religion is behind more deaths in this world than NOT. Why is it always some Jesus Freak who is the nut job in the crowd?

    Religion is a breeding ground for these people. The whack jobs showing up at furnerals of soliders?! The nuts who bomb clinics becase abortions are performed there, killing in name of their 'God"

    "Well I was raised on it!" Yeah, and we used to beat the heck out of our kids too, and we used to never wear seat belts either....and we were raised on that too, now we KNOW BETTER.

    This is truly hilarious to me, all the quotes from the Bible in these posts, as if its the golden word. Too much.

    But.....boy it sure pays to be a Jesus Freak in this country huh Joel? Tax free, and you can be a celeb too, on TV! The 'flock' are guilble, and are idiots. Keep your money people, or if like to watch Joel and his knuckllehead wife drive around in style while you drive a pick-up, by all means send them your cash!
    Its almost hilarious if it wasn't so sad.

    January 27, 2011 at 9:04 am |
    • HeavenSent

      FlabBIGtime, you don't get it. Christians agree that we will be true and honest neighbors. We won't pull the rug out from under you and rob all your tools or steal you money. We won't lie to your face and do something selfish behind your back. We won't steal your wife/husband, play games with your childrens' minds by insisting they don't obey you or encourage them to be a blight on society. We promise to be honest, caring, helpful neighbors that will be there for you in times of trouble. We will rejoice with you, cry with you, baby sit for your children to lend a helping hand when you are down with the flu and can't get out of bed.

      I can go on and on with giving of ourselves for others.

      How about you?


      January 27, 2011 at 5:47 pm |
  12. blf83

    Osteen is neither Christian nor Christ-like. What a crock! And crackpot who has figured out how to fleece people out of $$$ in the name of religion. If there is an afterlife and judgement, I want to be there when Osteen tries to storm the Pearly Gates!

    January 27, 2011 at 8:50 am |
  13. CraigT

    The man is nothing but a prayer pimp.
    No theological education and no real understanding of the bible. Just a feel good charlatan fleecing the ignorant masses desire for religion lite

    January 27, 2011 at 8:48 am |
  14. boye

    For the message of the cross( good news,goodlife, Holiness, prosperity, good health,faith, love etc) is foolishness to those who are perishing but to us who are beign saved it is the power of God. For it is written: "I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate. 1 corinthians 1:18-19

    January 27, 2011 at 8:45 am |
  15. Kebyar

    The Christian god – like all gods – is imaginary and your book – like all religious texts – was written or compiled by a bunch of guys with an agenda of social control. Deal with it. The more the human race learns through the scientific method about how the universe works, the less we need bronze-age 'goddidit' explanations and rationalizations for everything. Again, deal with it.

    January 27, 2011 at 8:20 am |
  16. Morgan

    His own bible condemns him:

    "Then Jesus said to his disciples, 'I tell you the truth, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.'" Matthew19:24

    January 27, 2011 at 8:17 am |
    • Brent

      Not exactly. He gets off on a technicality. That page was conveniently torn from his bible, therefore it doesn't exist, at least not in his church.

      January 27, 2011 at 9:19 am |
  17. Duane

    I don't see why people get so worked up over this guy or people like him. His opinion is irrelevant to anyone but himself and his flock. If they want to buy his stuff, it's their money to waste. My only problem would be is if he tries to translate his popularity into influencing government on how the rest of us live our lives. Then he becomes enemy number one, and I'll do everything legally and through proper channels to make sure he never gets a chance to influence anyone again. I would like to point out that his wife is kind of hot, but that information is about as important as this guy is to the grand scheme of things.

    January 27, 2011 at 7:52 am |
  18. faith

    Joel Osteen was not judging...he just said the plain truth from the bible. If you don't like him or the truth, just pretend like you did not watch or just leave him.
    Enough of hypocrisy, looking for preachers to say what you want not what the bible says. America needs God more than ever before, this was not an issue some years back. Its so obvious we are in the last days where men are lovers of themselves and not lovers of God. And God gives us power to make wealth(deu 8:18). Love and please God...datsall!!!

    January 27, 2011 at 6:52 am |
  19. me

    In it for money? He's been doing it for years, before he got extremely wealthy. You're mad because he's a great speaker? Then you go speak. You're mad because he made millions off his writings? Then try writing one yourself. And as far as taxes, any time you receive a check taxes come out in THIS state, not to mention the utility bill that his church pays helps keep your kid's in school and your streets paved. You guys get on him saying he's judging people's (gays) life style when you are judging his motives and income when 99 percent of you all have never even met the guy. hypocritical? I think so. Jealous? you all got to be. Now if you don't agree with his religion that's your opinion but you should have no opinion on anyone elses life and motives but your own.

    January 27, 2011 at 5:00 am |
  20. Apostle Eric vonAnderseck

    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.
    Apostle Eric says; You cannot preach to the world on their level of ignorance to show them the glories of His grace. Only light can enter Light, and Jesus is the key. http://apostlestoday.net/

    January 27, 2011 at 3:57 am |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22
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.