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. kayaker247

    this guy is a complete phony... and a hot dog snorkler for sure. don't give your money to anyone selling god.

    January 26, 2011 at 12:50 pm |
  2. Michael O'Brien

    FYI: Jesus Christ of the Gospels could not possibly have been a real person. he is a combination of impossible elements. There may have lived in Palestine, nineteen centuries ago, a man whose name was Jesus, who went about doing good, who was followed by admiring associates and who in the end met a violent death. But of this possible person not a line was written when he lived and his life and character the world of today knows absolutely nothing. This Jesus, if he lived was a man and if he was a reformer he was but one of many that have lived and died in every age of the world. When the world has learned that the Christ of the Gospels is a myth that Christianity is untrue, it will turn its attention from the religious fictions of the past to the vital prolems of today and solve them for the improvement of the well being of the real men and women whom we know and whom we ought to help and love. Note: Taken from the library of Marshall J Gauvin (ca. 1922)

    January 26, 2011 at 12:46 pm |
    • tnw

      Thank you for finally posting something that is right on ! At least there is someone out there that gets it!

      January 26, 2011 at 12:56 pm |
    • Andrew

      Not a line was written during his lifetime of Alexander the Great, but no one refutes his existence. Food for thought...you never saw, touched, felt, tasted nor heard Issac Newton talk, but you believe eveything written about his beliefs regarding gravity.

      January 26, 2011 at 1:08 pm |
    • Maybe


      1. We are not commanded to live our lives (and an imagined afterlife) according to anything that Alexander the Great did or said.

      2. Issac Newton's Theory can be (and has been) tested. It doesn't matter what he might have said in a 'talk' (unless one wants to find in it more theories to test).

      January 26, 2011 at 1:19 pm |
    • Andrew

      You are right...God doesn't command in the sense of a General commanding orders. Instead, like a parent comands his/her children to do things one way or another...not because you want to control, but because you want to spare your child the pain of bad choices. Think about the rules you give your children, or got as a child. Were they given to you to beat you into submission, or because your parents or you wanted the very best. God is before anything else love...

      January 26, 2011 at 1:27 pm |
    • Andrew

      Just one more thing, going back to existence, you refute the very existence of Jesus based on the fact that nothing was written about him in his lifetime, but cannot hold the same standard when it come to Alexander because you would then oblige yourself to refute his existence. In fact, you would be obliged to refute the existence of everything that you personally didn't see, feel, touch, taste or hear like the holocaust based on your measure of validity. There need to be an acceptance that as human beings we choose authorities on subjects, whether it be history, science or religion...who is your authority?

      January 26, 2011 at 1:32 pm |
    • Eric G.

      @Andrew: Sorry, LOGIC FOUL ON THE PLAY!!! You are making an argument from as-sumption. You are claiming to know the intentions of your god. You will need to provide verifiable evidence that this is what your god wants. Before you do that, you will need to provide verifiable evidence that your god exists. Your evidence will then be subject to the same level of scr-utiny as any other theory. 10 YARDS FROM THE SPOT OF THE FOUL. REPEAT FIRST DOWN!!!!

      January 26, 2011 at 1:36 pm |
    • Maybe

      I don't necessarily refute the existence of a person names Jesus who lived back then. I do dispute that he was a god.

      January 26, 2011 at 1:47 pm |
    • Dreyfus

      My friend, Flavious Josefus is the most famous historian Jewesh living at the same years when Jesus lived. He wrote several books in Hebrew and Aramaic, one of which I had the opportunity to read at the university, He spoke about Joshua Ben Josef, “who was known for his miracles in all of Judea" ... Also Jesus is mentioned as a kind of Prophet in the book “Shema Israel”, (Listen Israel) written by Jewish historian Mordechai Jaacobi. Indeed, there is a review of Josephus where he, like you, thinks that Jesus, despite his miracles, was an impostor who took the promise of being the Jewish Messiah. I keep my own opinion and it’s a bit different. But there is plenty data showing that Jesus was a real person..

      January 26, 2011 at 1:57 pm |
  3. wise

    People buy so many books (making others rich in the process) about the only book they need to read. What is in any of the books by christians that is not in the Bible? NOTHING! Pray for the Holy Spirit and just read the Bible or is GOD's word not sufficient for you!

    January 26, 2011 at 12:41 pm |
    • kayaker247

      someone is still getting rich off the bibles being sold. I was raised catholic, it's a good story I know, but so is Lord of the Rings, equally fictional in their own right.

      January 26, 2011 at 1:03 pm |
  4. Carlos

    I wonder what the skeletons in his closet would say????

    January 26, 2011 at 12:41 pm |
    • Biff

      "Can I get a reach around?"

      January 26, 2011 at 4:14 pm |
  5. H Meyer

    Sadly, from reading some of the many posts on this topic, it is obvious that P.T. Barnum was right.....'there's a sucker born every minute'....and clearly many of you fall into that category.....why would anyone with an IQ over 80 shell out $$$ to be told how to live and think by some greedy purveyor of circular logic?
    The same goes to the never ending supply of bible thumpers, who pick and choose certain quotes from the Book of Dogma, while conveniently ignoring others. the bible is a collection of stories and pablum, carefully edited and crafted by men, used to buffalo the weak minded and exert control over women!! And we are supposed to follow bibical teachings every day instead of thinking for ourselves? Not me. Unlike the Scarecrow, I have a brain. Many of you have brains that have been turned into mush....and you are the ones who make whackjobs like this clown rich, buying his wares and listenting glassy-eyed to his mesmerizing blather, while reaching deep into your pockets to give money to this twerp in exchange for what, exactly?

    January 26, 2011 at 12:41 pm |
    • Hmmmm


      January 26, 2011 at 12:44 pm |
  6. canuck

    @Rich. Joel got rich from making money off suckers like yourself

    January 26, 2011 at 12:40 pm |
  7. T.Brown

    Some of you people need to read the book" The Devine Revelation of Hell"

    January 26, 2011 at 12:40 pm |
    • Eric G.

      I am on my way to the library now. I will honestly read the book you reference. I challenge you to read "The origin of species". If that is too sciency for you, I would suggest "letters to a christian nation".

      January 26, 2011 at 12:52 pm |
    • Brent

      Oh my, are you serious? How is that (a divine revelation of hell) more or less believable than someone how claims to have been abducted by aliens?

      January 26, 2011 at 4:11 pm |
    • Brent

      I just looked up "letter to a christian nation", it looks like a good read, thanks for the suggestion. I also read some of "a divine revelation" and it reads like a child's book (my opinion, alone).

      January 26, 2011 at 4:29 pm |
  8. Hmmmm

    wow, i sur kant spel

    January 26, 2011 at 12:40 pm |
  9. UmDude

    Regardless of what you think of Osteen, take a look at this simple 5 question quiz. How you respond could change your life if you're honest with your answers: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vNWyqReivwo

    January 26, 2011 at 12:36 pm |
  10. Pastor Eric Von

    Piers............. I would love to appear on your show! Ask me the same questions you asked Pastor Joel

    January 26, 2011 at 12:35 pm |
  11. Rich

    I've been listening to Joel's minister since it was his dad was preaching. Christians and non-Christians have come down on them both. If concluded that even if these guys were making money off this ministry, that is fine with me. They have encouraged millions of peple every week including myelf to stop moping and quit complaining and do something with our lives. If you complain a lot and I can see half of the bloggers do, Joel is exactly who you need to listen to and the Bible is the book for you to read. Phililpians 4:8 "Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise."

    January 26, 2011 at 12:31 pm |
    • CatholicMom

      You are referring to things not OF the world then....not material things but things of Heaven, right?

      January 27, 2011 at 11:37 pm |
  12. Donna

    This gentleman is seriously deceived. I always believe that preachers preach their sin...look at Jimmy Swaggart and Jim Bakker. I would caution anyone listening to this gentleman.

    January 26, 2011 at 12:30 pm |
  13. Jim

    to bandgeek1 and Bailoutsos: first of all he did not earn his money tax free, he wrote books, and created DVD's seperate from the church. If you bothered yourselves to read the entire interview, you would have read he DOES NOT COLLECT A SALARY from the church. so bandgeek if you dont want him to be wealthy then dont buy his books, he isnt forcing anyone to purchase them. Im amazed at how many people on here are saying he collects his money form the church when he doesnt, maybe it will be easier for you to watch the interview rather than read it, unless you have selective listening skils also

    January 26, 2011 at 12:30 pm |
  14. bob

    Any Pastor of a large congregation is not unlike a CEO of a large company. No one tells the CEO he should give away his salary.
    Osteen takes his salary from books and CD's he wrote himself. there are some CEO's that do not take a salary from their company's, but this is rare.

    January 26, 2011 at 12:29 pm |
  15. JfBK

    Another snake oil salesman who should be ashamed of himself. Why people who believe in this non-sense feel the need to push their beliefs on others amazes me. Religion was, and is, used as a tool for repression and is long passed its usefulness.

    January 26, 2011 at 12:29 pm |
  16. Rick Thomson

    CNN is committing a sin for making this article so judgmental, CNN = " Ministry of Truth "
    It's disgusting when CNN paints a dirty picture for this great man.

    January 26, 2011 at 12:29 pm |
    • Eric G.

      Hey Rick, lighten up! If you are a Christian, you are not supposed to judge others. Why don't you forgive them like you are supposed to?

      January 26, 2011 at 12:40 pm |
  17. jay

    even if joel were to give away all his money and live very modestly i still think people would critizice him just because...

    January 26, 2011 at 12:29 pm |
  18. Reality

    Once a day WARNING for new commentators:

    • The moderators of this blog have set up a secret forbidden word filter which unfortunately not only will delete or put your comment in the dreaded "waiting for moderation" category but also will do the same to words having fragments of these words. For example, "t-it" is in the set but the filter will also pick up words like Hitt-ite, t-itle, beati-tude, practi-tioner and const-tution. Then there are words like "an-al" thereby flagging words like an-alysis and "c-um" flagging acc-umulate or doc-ument. And there is also "r-a-pe", “a-pe” and “gra-pe”, "s-ex", and "hom-ose-xual". You would think that the moderators would have corrected this by now considering the number of times this has been commented on but they have not. To be safe, I typically add hyphens in any word that said filter might judge "of-fensive".

    • More than one web address will also activate “waiting for moderation”. Make sure the web address does not have any forbidden word or fragment.

    Sum Dude routinely updates the list of forbidden words/fragments.

    Two of the most filtered words are those containing the fragments "t-it" and "c-um". To quickly check your comments for these fragments, click on "Edit" on the Tool Bar and then "Find" on the menu. Add a fragment (without hyphens) one at a time in the "Find" slot and the offending fragment will be highlighted in your comments before you hit the Post button. Hyphenate the fragment(s) and then hit Post. And remember more than one full web address will also gain a "Waiting for Moderation".

    January 26, 2011 at 12:24 pm |
  19. Speedster

    I'd never trust anyone who hates what God gave him so much (mainly his face) and who'd then get so much surgery that he looks that clownish with my moral compass.

    Leave Gay people alone. If there really is the hyper-judgmental God like some of you think, then they probably won't get into your idea of heaven, so let them be.

    January 26, 2011 at 12:22 pm |
  20. Thenextstep

    I like this guy.

    January 26, 2011 at 12:22 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.