David Edwards at Raw Story reports what may be the least surprising news of the day: Joel Osteen, infamous Paleoconservative Bible-thumping God-botherer, appeared September 20th on CNN’s Starting Point, and told host Soledad O’Brien that homosexuality was still, like, totally a sin.
O’Brien expressed some skepticism that Osteen could claim to be “uplifting LGBT people” and making them feel that joy, joy, joy, joy down in their hearts while also telling them they are sinners.
Osteen clarified, “It seems like in Christianity, sometimes we categorize sin. I mean pride is a sin, being critical is a sin, being negative is a sin.”
O’Brien pointed out that pridefulness, being critical and being negative were all behaviors that a person could strive to change, thereby subtly pointing out that people do not choose to be born gay (or straight). “When you’re talking to your 45,000 people in your service and some of them are gay, you’re saying to them, ‘You’re a sinner,’” O’Brien pressed.
“That’s what I believe, that the scripture condemns it. It says it’s a sin, but it also says, you know, lying is and that being prideful is. [...] I know I have not chosen to be straight, I feel like that’s who I am,” Osteen admitted. “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 were the fine line is, but I do try to stay in my lane.”(source)
Some Christians would probably criticize Osteen for not seizing the chance to
proselytize explain to O’Brien the frog-hair-fine distinctions between original sin, and a sin you deliberately choose: that they believe everyone — some Christians say — is a sinner both by nature (i.e., you’re born with it, which does not seem very fair!) and by choice (which, again, would not apply to gay people being gay, because SCIENCE).
Osteen generally attempts to prevent a reasonable face to the general public, and I have no doubt that he is sincere in his beliefs. He desperately wants to avoid being accused of bigotry or hatefulness, but he still feels compelled to remind non-straight people that they are sinners (in Osteen’s opinion, anyway) every time he is interviewed. This is sort of like someone saying “no offense” and then saying some really offensive stuff to you, and then getting defensive and angry when you say you were, in fact, offended by the offensive comments. Saying Jesus loves everyone, even sinners, and then saying, “oh, by the way, that ‘sin’ thing means YOU in particular, gay people, because I believe you choose to be that way” does not make Osteen’s interpretation of Christian belief sound very enticing.
Osteen has gone on FOX News and reassured Chris Wallace “that he thought there should be some rights for gay men and lesbians” — he is not down with gay people being discriminated or bullied and thinks it is not right for gay people to not be allowed to “go visit a gay loved one in the hospital”. Osteen adds that he doesn’t hate or even dislike gay people, and that he thinks they are some of the ”most loving people in the world,” but he still doesn’t think they should get married to each other.
Osteen has also weighed in about Mitt Romney’s Mormon faith. As quoted in Huffington Post, Osteen said:
“When I hear Mitt Romney say he believes that Jesus is the Son of God — that he’s the Christ, raised from the dead, that he’s his Savior, that’s good enough for me,” Osteen said. [...] ”I’m not looking to exclude people, I’m looking to include them,” Osteen told the network. “Now, I realize, too, you know I grew up a preacher’s kid, that Mormonism is not traditional orthodox Christianity. There are things that I don’t agree with but, then again, there are things about other, you know, the Catholics, that I don’t agree with — or even different denominations.”
Osteen has said offensive things about LGBT people before, including comments to Washington Post’s Sally Quinn that, yes, featured another assertion that being gay was a sin. Osteen told Quinn that he believes that gay folks can be “loved” (and perhaps thumped on the noggin with Bibles a few times) into not being gay anymore and thus magically de-fabulize themselves; that he would attend but not officiate at a gay wedding ceremony; and that gays should definitely buy his awesome new book which is pretty much guaranteed to say some more shit about how Osteen’s God is all-powerful, all-knowing and all-loving and the Creator of everything and how the gay people God made are also still not okay.
Oh, goody. He expects gay people to pay him, a smug televangelist, for the privilege of reading his new book where he is going to declare at some point that you’re wrong and bad because you don’t dig the opposite sex. I can hear The Gays whipping out their wallets right now. Or not.