- (Photo: REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque)
Megachurch preacher and bestselling author Joel Osteen, pressed by CNN’s Piers Morgan on his views regarding homosexuality, said Tuesday during an interview that his stance on the issue is grounded in the Bible, which he said will still present homosexuality as sin, even 200 years from now.
The Houston minister's remarks were in response to a question Morgan asked Osteen, appearing as a guest on "Piers Morgan Tonight," about whether or not he still believes homosexuality is a sin, referring to a January interview with the preacher.
Morgan expressed that homosexuality appears to be more acceptable and that "it's becoming much less of a prohibitive kind of issue than it used to be."
Osteen responded, "You know Piers, it never really changes because mine is based out of the Scripture. That's what I believe that the Scripture says, that homosexuality is a sin. I believed it then [and] I believe it now. Again, I would just reiterate what I said. I'm not after anybody. I'm not mad at anybody. I don't dislike anybody, but you know, respecting my faith and believing what the Scripture says, that's the best way I can interpret it."
Morgan challenged Osteen's interpretation of the Bible by asking the Texas minister if condemning homosexuality based on Scripture was not simply sticking to outdated customs, considering that Osteen is seen as a "progressive" preacher.
"But shouldn't the Scripture be dragged kicking and screaming into the modern age?" Morgan said. "Not really everything in the Scripture is, in my view, conducive to modern life. Like everything else, doesn't it have to move with the times?"
"Well, I want to be progressive," Osteen said. "But when I read it, I just don't see how you can change that. Just like you know, you wouldn't change some other main things in the Scripture … in 200 years, the Scripture is still going to say that."
Change.org blogger Michael Jones, who writes on religion and LGBT issues for the activist website and who has participated in campaigns against Christian nonprofits for allegedly being "anti-gay," described Osteen's stance on homosexuality as "sugar-coated homophobia."
"Pastor Osteen fits into the category of minister who attempts to be pastoral to LGBT people, but ultimately delivers a homophobic hammer of a message," Jones wrote.
Osteen was also asked about his beliefs when he was challenged on the sin of homosexuality during a 2010 appearance on ABC's "The View.” Co-host Whoopie Goldberg asked if he would allow gay people in his Houston-based Lakewood Church, according to The Advocate, a gay and lesbian publication.
Osteen responded by saying he welcomes gay people, but that "homosexuality is not God's best." Osteen also appeared to agree with "The View" co-host Joy Behar that being gay is not a choice.
"It's not something you pick to be, because it's very difficult to be gay in this society," Behar said to Osteen.
"I know it isn't, but I try to love them and treat them with respect," Osteen replied.
The Lakewood Church pastor faced criticism from the gay rights community and from Christians after his appearance on "The View" for failing to explicitly identify homosexuality as sin.
During his first appearance on "Piers Morgan Tonight" in January, Osteen made sure to express the evangelical position on the issue.
"The Scripture shows that it's a sin," Osteen said when Morgan asked him whether he viewed homosexuality as a sin.
Osteen added, "I'm not one of those to bash homosexuals and tell them they’re terrible people and all that. Sometimes the church focuses on one issue or two issues and there are 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."