Joel Osteen calls homosexuality "a sin," but professes to love Elton John
If Lakewood Church pastor Joel Osteen is known for anything (besides writing bestselling books, leading one of the largest congregations in the country and having a toothy grin) it's preferring to stay silent on touchy political subjects and focusing on God wanting you to be rich, successful and happy. He's the anti-Rick Warren in that regard.
But when Osteen and his wife Victoria appeared on Piers Morgan Tonight in an interview that will air Wednesday night on CNN, Joel Osteen stated when pressed that he believes homosexuality is a sin.
"The scripture shows that it's a sin," said Osteen, "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 ... I don't believe homosexuality is God's best for a person's life."
Osteen has been asked this question before and generally repeats the mantra that he doesn't believe it's "God's best" and mentions that gay people are welcome at his church.
Osteen also said he believes civil unions between gay couples are "wrong" but hasn't said whether he believes homosexuality is a choice.
Morgan responded by bringing up his friend Elton John, who just had a baby with partner David Furnish through a surrogate.
"If Elton John was sitting here today I'd say 'Man, I love you, Elton John! You are talented, you have so many gifts,' " Victoria Osteen said, before Morgan cut in, with, "He's not going to say the same to you. He's not going to say to you 'I don't like the way you lead your lives.' "
But in the Osteens' defense, they don't normally go around telling people "I don't like the way you lead your life" — in fact they avoid the subject unless asked in interviews. And Osteen compares the sin of homosexuality to the sin of pride or impure thoughts — meaning he may believe Elton John is a sinner, but he also believes all people are sinners. He even suggests that it's a mistake for Christians to focus on "one issue, or two issues" when those sins are no worse than any other.
Asked what gay people should do to be better, Osteen compared homosexuality to addiction and mentioned God's grace and the capacity for change, but then seemed to back off rather than promote abstinence or supposed "cures." "It's a hard issue and I don't know that I fully understand it," he said.
While I disagree with Osteen's opinion on homosexuality and sin, he should probably get more credit than Morgan gives him. He has an opinion based on his religion (which he refers to as a "choice") and scripture, but doesn't use the Bible's condemnation to isolate or "bash" gays and he has stayed out of the political fights over gay rights.
Osteen even got some flack from conservative Christians after administering the blessing when Houston Mayor Annise Parker (who is a lesbian) was sworn into office in 2010.
His opinion comes as close to "you just do you" as a preacher can get without going Unitarian. And if Osteen is willing to accept and "love" people that live their life differently, surely we can give him the same freedom, can't we?
The full Piers Morgan interview with Joel and Victoria Osteen airs on Wednesday at 7 p.m. on CNN.