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. read ur comment

    I see a lot of wanna be smart falks writting things that are realy sad, things like the bible is nothing but another of those books, that God doesn't exist. But the interesting thing is that it is those same people who bad mouth God when bad things happen to them.

    January 28, 2011 at 10:31 am |
    • Eric G.

      "wanna be smart falks"? All kidding aside, I do know what you mean. Believers who think they know everything really annoy those of us that do.

      January 28, 2011 at 3:10 pm |
  2. Richard

    Wow! A man of God who voted for a War monger. Last time I watch his program!

    January 28, 2011 at 8:19 am |
  3. Lisa

    Believe and say what you want to believe and then when your last breath of life is near, see who you call on ! Go ahead and make fun of me...I sooooo don't care...I just want to say I love the Lord and will say so far as long as I can speak....I don't care if you don't like what I say or what I believe.....it is AOK – I know what I know...I am blessed, happy and I don't have a lot of money or the best of everything wtih fancy gadgets and all that....I have God, family and friends....have a groovy day and try not to let my happiness ruin your day....ta ta....

    January 28, 2011 at 7:25 am |
    • Eric G.

      Thank you Lisa. I hope your belief gives you comfort and that you have a wonderful Friday!

      I do have one question about your post. If you "sooooo dont care" if others make fun of your beliefs, why do you feel the need to recognize their jests at all? I would guess that you do care. I would guess that it does bother you. Why?

      January 28, 2011 at 7:59 am |
  4. Dennis

    SOME people here just have to be negative. They can't stand that some are happy and they are not.
    Joel has a positive message almost always and it inspires many people to live a good life.
    Why would you be against that. You don't have to support his ministry. Leave the happy people to themselves.

    January 28, 2011 at 7:05 am |
  5. KAK

    Why is it always gays and lesbians that religion singles out in these conversations? There are a lot more admonitions and sins listed for straight people in the Bible, but you never hear Evangelicals preach about most of them. Why is that?

    January 28, 2011 at 1:34 am |
  6. Moogie

    organized religion is for insecure people who dont want to admit their own mortality. Those who "proclaim" to be a christian are fakes. If anyone was a true "Christian", it was Mother Theresa. It doesnt mean prosperity; it means sacrifice, a vow of poverty. If people are stupid enough to give their time and money to these fakes (Olsteen isnt the only one), let them. You cant fix stupid.

    January 27, 2011 at 8:33 pm |
  7. Jim w.

    Gee....i guess if Abraham was alive.....they would be condemning him.

    January 27, 2011 at 7:54 pm |
  8. james

    Here's a thought. Focus on your own life and what you are doing with it, stop worrying about what other people do. If another person chooses to do something you feel is a sin, so what? If there is a Hell and they go there, what skin is it off your back? I live my life as I see fit and let others do the same. As long as they're not hurting anyone else it's none of my business.

    January 27, 2011 at 6:55 pm |
  9. Ellen

    Husband and wife – two polished performers – SQUIRMING through an interview with Piers Morgan. Joel blathers on and on when struggling to answer legitimate questions. Just before he buries himself in his own words, in swoops Victoria to shift the focus from him to her. By the way, would NOT want to mess with Victoria. Thank you, Piers, for your respectful but relentless interview style. Refreshing.

    January 27, 2011 at 5:41 pm |
  10. Ellen

    THANK YOU, Piers Morgan, for making Joel Osteen and The Woman Behind the Man (I would not want to mess with Victoria)
    squirm. Morgan's interview questions and followups were superb – respectful but relentless. Husband and wife – two polished performers – strive to convince viewers they are perfect in every way. Osteen blathers on and on when struggling to avoid direct responses to legitimate questions. Seconds before he totally buries himself in his own words, Vicki swoops in and moves the focus of the interviewer away from Joel and on to herself. Pretty good tag team effort, you two, but you won't fool all the people all the time.

    January 27, 2011 at 5:35 pm |
  11. Brad

    Lammme topiccccccc

    January 27, 2011 at 5:06 pm |
  12. victor c.

    I am really trying to find some postive on the Osteens. He makes my ex happy and secure so there must be others. The good lord created this world for us to enjoy so go out and experience it.( the creation) If it is money with the finest porcelin and carpets, vehicles, electronics ect. The opposite would be to live in a cave and destroy the creation as Al-Quieda wishes. The real evil is not the materialists but the anti-materialists. How would you like to live under Osamma's laws?

    January 27, 2011 at 4:54 pm |
  13. Glenn

    So does he pay income tax on the income he draws from the book and DVD sales?

    January 27, 2011 at 4:13 pm |
  14. weallgotone

    False prophet making real profit.

    January 27, 2011 at 4:04 pm |
  15. Cindy

    Oh yeah, right. Sure. GOD would be insulted if you took the megabucks you've collected in GOD's name and used them to feed and shelter the homeless, or provide medical care to the impoverished, or tried to improve the ecology. If he really believed in GOD, I think he would be looking for a lightening bolt from the sky to strike him down. You must judge people not by what they say, but by what they do. I see nothing of substance from this man.

    January 27, 2011 at 2:34 pm |
  16. Pierre

    Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by the rulers as useful.

    Seneca the Younger 4 b.c.- 65 a.d.

    January 27, 2011 at 2:14 pm |
  17. Eugene

    BELIERER""' you don't wait till Judgement to start praying for Heaven' Dear God in Heaven help these people see it is by Faith that get's you to Heaven He never say's Any thing about Heaven or Hell"' What is Judgement day about' to see how you lived on Earth before you Died' CHER" you must be borned again by Faith in Jesus and get Saved' or no way any body can get into Heaven no Body' all you people that watch him' count how many time's he say's Hell or the final Judgement"' the Lake fo Fire for ever and ever' man and woman" it never end's never ever"' this comment will never be posted' i said Hell to many time's

    January 27, 2011 at 12:29 pm |
  18. Jerry Fallfromgrace

    What about the God sanctioned ho_mos_exu_al child r_ape in other parts of "the scriptures"? e.g. Genesis 19:8: Judges 19:16-30.

    Give me a break – he's a con artist like the rest.

    January 27, 2011 at 12:20 pm |
  19. Kate Murphy

    God does not bless with fame, fortune, Oscars or Grammys! Some things come from hard work, luck, cheating, violence, etc.

    January 27, 2011 at 12:04 pm |
  20. Justamom

    I think instead of worrying about what Osteen does or does not do, I'll worry about the beam in my own eye.

    January 27, 2011 at 11:16 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.