Evangelical Christian pastor Joel Osteen attempted to defend his views on homosexuality in a televised interview Thursday, saying that he believes homosexuality is a sin and not "God's best." Toward the end of the interview, Osteen affirmed that he did not "choose" to have an heterosexual orientation.
Osteen began the interview by referencing his new book, I Declare: 31 Promises to Speak Over Your Life, saying that his goal as a pastor is to lift his congregants up, and instill a good sense of self-image in each one of his service attendees.
Soledad O'Brien, host of CNN's "Starting Point," then steered the conversation toward the subject of homosexuality, asking Osteen if he believes that homosexuality is a sin.
Osteen responded by telling O'Brien that although he does believe that homosexuality is a sin according to the Bible, he does not focus on the subject in his sermons as much as he does in interviews.
"It seems like in Christianity, sometimes we categorize sin," Osteen explained. "I mean pride is a sin, being critical is a sin, being negative is a sin."
"I don't think [homosexuality is] God's best," he added.
O'Brien then asked Osteen, "You would say, the Scripture says homosexuality is a sin?"
"Exactly," Osteen agreed.
The conversation then turned to panel member Richard Socarides, a writer for The New Yorker and former Bill Clinton adviser.
"Do you think you can choose to be gay or not gay? You think you choose to be straight?" Socarides asked the megachurch pastor.
"I know I have not chosen to be straight, I feel like that's who I am," Osteen responded.
"I don't understand all those issues so, you know, I try to stick on the issues I do understand. I know this: I'm for everybody, I'm not for pushing people down. … I don't know where the fine line is, but I do try to stay in my lane," Osteen added.
Osteen has often been criticized in the past for not speaking firmly on some issues, including the topics of homosexuality and politics.
Osteen has repeatedly affirmed that he chooses to stay away from heated topics because he wants to make himself, as a man of God, accessible to people of all orientations and beliefs.
"You start dividing yourself saying, 'I'm a Democrat,' 'Republican,' whatever, 50 percent immediately don't agree. And I want to throw a broad message of hope to everyone, not somebody turn me off because of my political preference," Osteen told "CBS This Morning" earlier this week.
Osteen is the pastor of Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas, which boasts a weekly attendance of 43,000 people.