Joel Osteen takes a stand on Gay Marriage – sort of

Will the man every take a solid position?

”I’m not for gay marriage. In the Bible — I say that marriage is between a male and a female. Now, I don’t know, I haven’t read this new one that your talking about. I’m not against anybody. I’m not against gay people or anybody else. But I just think that my faith is based on the scripture, and that’s what I see in the Bible that marriage is between a man and a woman…. I’m not sure I’m up to speed. What do you mean by that [marriage is a civil right]? …. I just don’t think that’s God’s best…. I think that it is a choice. I think it’s a choice. I can’t say that I understand it all, but I think it’s a choice.”

TV evangelist Joel Osteen responding to CNN’s Larry King on the recent Newsweek article about gay marriage, whether he thinks gays deserve marriage, and whether he thinks being gay is a choice or not. His wife, Victoria, states that they have wonderful, nice gay people in their church, but they ”just don’t believe in that.” (Larry King Show)

Joel L. Watts
Joel L. Watts holds a Masters of Arts from United Theological Seminary with a focus in literary and rhetorical criticism of the New Testament. He is currently a Ph.D. student at the University of the Free State, analyzing Paul’s model of atonement in Galatians. He is the author of Mimetic Criticism of the Gospel of Mark: Introduction and Commentary (Wipf and Stock, 2013), a co-editor and contributor to From Fear to Faith: Stories of Hitting Spiritual Walls (Energion, 2013), and Praying in God's Theater, Meditations on the Book of Revelation (Wipf and Stock, 2014).

46 thoughts on “Joel Osteen takes a stand on Gay Marriage – sort of

  1. Will the man ever take a solid position?

    No. It’s pretty much that simple.

    The guy has the spiritual depth of a kiddie pool, and I don’t know that he even knows the word “sin.”

  2. He is afraid of making people mad and if they get mad and don’t go along with what he says,he don’t get no money… that is what it is all about…Just started watching one on tv, makes me sick to hear them say, if you sow a seed ,God will make you rich,make all your bills disapear,

  3. As a televangelist, I love Joel Osteen. I got turned onto “the smiling preacher” while flipping the channel in an Atlanta hotel room one morning. Ever since, I’ve watched several of his sermons. I’ve found many of his sermons uplifting and positive, if only because that’s part of his “brand” (yes, mega-church evangelicalism is a business – Osteen has a pretty successful one at that.)

    Osteen’s gospel of “prosperity” is a little too much for me, but for those who are financially struggling or who believe that God rewards the faithful with worldly riches, then it should be obvious why Osteen has a big following in the U.S. So much of how we view ourselves is through the lense of materialism or false standards of what being “wealthy” means.

    Nevertheless, Osteen’s message of “widening your inner circle” and resisting negativity towards yourself and others is a very “Jesus” concept and I commend him for it. I think that’s partially why so many “official Evangelical spokespersons” dislike him: he doesn’t do his share of damning to hell anyone who doesn’t follow the party line. So much of American evangelicalism (and Catholicism as well) seems to be built on damnation, fear of hell, and singling out others as sinners and Joel Osteen seems to reject that in his sermons.

    I’m not surprise that he’s against gay marriage, as are most Evangelicals, or non-mainline Protestants. Where I find Osteen objectionable is where he says being gay is a “choice”. I think anyone who has known someone gay (even the so-called “ex-gays”) knows that having an attraction to the same sex is something people are born with.

    If you ask them, most gay people will tell you that they have known they were this way since early childhood – or about the same time most kids become aware of their love interests. Many Christians compare homosexuality to murder, adultery, bestiality, and pedophilia, but how many 8 year olds have an inborn attraction to commit murder or child abuse?

    Osteen falls into the trap that gays are just wayward heterosexuals making the wrong choice. However, given the spiritual, emotional, and physical violence both from within and outside of the family, why would anyone choose to be so? What rewards are there to being gay, if it is indeed a choice?

    To have notorious donut-pusher Rick Warren compare you and your significant other to child sex abusers? To be fired from your job? To lose your life because you were seen holding hands? That hardly seems like a choice most rational people would make, if they could.

    The other part of this false “choice” assumption is the reality that many people are in fact bisexual, and so there is an illusion that one can “choose” to be gay since many bisexuals can. Take Anne Heche for example. Just because she dumped Ellen and got preggers with some guy doesn’t mean she’s “cured”. She’s bisexual – they can do that.

    As we find out, many gay Evangelical men like Lonnie Frisbee, Ted Haggard, and Ray Boltz (just to name a few known ones) lead double lives because of the hostility of their fellow “brothers and sisters” in Christ towards gays. After decades of trying to “pray the gay away” to no avail, these men finally come out of the closet – and in doing so, drag their (usually aware of the fact) wives and unaware children into the drama. And, not surprisingly, they are then completely shunned and ostracized by the very people who claim Jesus as their King.

    It is my belief that the anti-gay attitudes of Christians is completely dependent on the “choice” ideology. The “choice” ideology fits into a specfic interpretation of Scripture (not related to the four gospels) that justifies present-day prejudices, just as slavery also has a strong Scriptural basis.

    But no matter what Paul says about the people of Corinth, or to the Romans, or what is written for Jewish priests of the Second Temple in Leviticus, is it really the overriding theme of either canons that God creates mistakes? Is condemnation of gays consistent with the larger message of Jesus?

    And if we were to listen to Paul and take all that he said as literally as we do his laundry list of “perversions” to avoid, then we would also take note that marriage, in Paul’s eyes, was up there as well. Whether a marriage between a man and a woman, or two men, Paul was against marriages, period.

    Seeing as that self-identified Evangelicals have the highest rates of divorce and re-marriage (Adultery, according to Jesus and Paul, except in the case of infidelity), Paul’s extreme belief regarding abstention from marriage might seem to protect those who really take marriage seriously, as opposed to those who believe in “one man/one woman” multiple times.

  4. Can someone here quote me on what Jesus said, explicitly, about gay marriage?

    And telecom laws, and wireless networks, and nuclear weapons, and stem cells, and evolution?

    Thanks, and please make sure those words are in his, please keep the interpretations to yourself.

    Yea, Joel, we probably aren’t going to agree on this one. :-)

  5. Polycarp, that is my belief too,, It is a sin,no matter how you try to make it not be… plain and simple,, I think Sexual sin is the worst sin you can do ,your body is considered the Temple of the Lord…;You can find that everywhere in the Bible.. what gets me is this “If it feels good ,do it, it is ok. age,, that we live in today,, all we can do though is pray for them… they are the ones who have to answer to God..and I still believe it is a choice,,, just like being a serial killer,a thief, you choose how you live your life….

  6. Corporate greed is very well covered in the concept of the “the love of money” thing.

    I would counter that “God’s Order” is now understood to be quite a bit more complex than Jesus could ever have understand. This was my point in bringing up other topics upon which no sermon was ever given. We have a knowledge of the workings of the Universe that far surpasses those of two-thousand years ago. Jesus gave no sermons on quantum mechanics, nor plate tectonics, not did he ever reference such modern and accurate conceptions of how the Universe functions.

    I would also counter that the order to “replenish the Earth” has been accomplished and there are now humans everywhere from pole to pole and meridian to meridian. I would further counter that because of our zeal to “replenish” we now have enough humans living such a lifestyle as to put our own planet in peril (at least as a worthwhile ecosystem for our species).

    In that context, how can it be a sin to live by one’s nature? In that context, would it not make sense in God’s infinite wisdom to have a class of human that would not add additional pressure to a “replenished” Earth?

    There are many other factors that would make it impossible for a couple to multiply, including that disease of “life out of control” called cancer (which can destroy both ovary and teste).

    Should they, too, be denied the right of marriage?

    I appreciate your understanding of the difference between faith and politics, and am glad to hear it. However, it seems there is quite a bit of interpretation of “God’s Order” being done here that is not backed up by direct statements.

    And Deb, if one’s body is a temple, obesity and gluttony are probably the worst and most common sins of the modern world. Yet I don’t see anyone keeping people who have no respect for their own bodies in that regard being considered “sinful.” Nor do I see people using this “sin” to deny them the rights of all other citizens(I realize you aren’t of that slant, polycarp).

    And no, Deb, I don’t consider being gay to being in any way similar with being a killer or a thief. I would also ask how many gay people have told you, personally, they chose to be gay. In my experience, that percentage is exactly 0.

    I’ve seen love in many forms and that includes the love of a man for a man and woman for a woman.

    Do you not see that love, or do you consider it to be false?

    I also think we both agree on how using the Old Testament in a discussion of Christ’s teachings is a bit of a non-starter. :-)

  7. ~~”I would counter that “God’s Order” is now understood to be quite a bit more complex than Jesus could ever have understand.”~~

    Jesus is God. There is nothing in this universe that He does NOT understand. He created all things (John 1:1)

    ~~”In that context, how can it be a sin to live by one’s nature?”~~

    We are born with a sin nature. We all sin, (Rom. 3:23) so living ‘by our nature’ is sinful. Therefore, if being homosexual is living ‘by our nature’ it is sinful.

    ~~”…if one’s body is a temple, obesity and gluttony are probably the worst and most common sins of the modern world.”~~

    Maybe not the ‘worst’ sin, but definitely sin! (Prov. 23:21, 28:7) And, yes, overweight people are discriminated against on a daily basis. The reason you don’t see advocacy for this group is because they KNOW it is a choice to over eat.

    Scripture MUST be our source for truth. If not, then anything goes.

    Yvonne @ Fragrance of Truth

  8. Yvonne, I certainly am of the opinion that Jesus was a man of incredible insight into the human condition. However, he was not God (but I do know why he sounds like that in your head).

    However, as he never, ever, not even once, and not even close, gave a sermon on either quantum physics or gay marriage, I don’t see how you can ASSUME to know what he would have said on those topics.

    You are assuming to know the mind of God, which is quite a thing to do, I assure you.

    I was not born of a sinful nature. I don’t think you are on the same wavelength as the rest of this conversation.

    If scripture is your ONLY source of truth, well…there’s a whole lot you don’t know about.

    Sorry, polycarp, but our conversation is nearing an end, particularly when it expands to involve too many people using too many undefined words. I will post the summation tomorrow.

    You are now arguing against love, both of you. And if you look back at our conversation, I think you will see that now.

    I am going to make it crystal clear tomorrow.

    Have a good evening.

  9. I know I am late but RopiNi, if you dont believe Jesus is God, then the whole arguement fails. The Bible claims that Jesus is God, so you cannot expect a Christian to doubt that, if he/she does then everything else is a waste of time.

    Jesus did cover gay marriage buy His spirit, the words may not come from his mouth or maybe they did and that is just not in the scriptures, the bible does not cover everyword Jesus said or every day of his life, or else it could never fit in one book. The bible says that all scripture is given by the Inspiration of God and it does say homosexuality is wrong so it is in essence the mind of Christ. Jesus is also called the Word of God.

    God is love but He always punsihes sin, it is why Christ was punished on teh cross so that we would not have to pay that price buty if we continue in sin as if it is good then that is on our own head.

    Wow there is so much to say!

    God Bless you!

  10. I absolutely loved reading this post. As a spiritually sound, non-religious, biologically determined homosexual who loves the beautiful world we have been given…YOU are a gem amongst all God’s creatures. I am a former follower by relational proxy and remember John O. fondly. If we only held one simple thing true…’that God is love’, then any act of committed love is His essence.

    Your words made my day.

  11. You are most likely, right, Roy. I don’t believe that He actually addressed the issue directly; however, I do believe that His mission was not to address each and every issue, but to free us from sin.

  12. I do (as I do corporate greed, among other things). It is against God’s order, His image for Christ and the Church. It is roundly condemned in the Old Testament (and the New – albeit I understand that some will differ with me concerning interpretive issues.) One of the commands in Eden was to multiply. It is impossible for two members of the same sex to multiply naturally.

    To be sure, unless you have read the rest of my blog, I do not consider the Christian moral system that I hold to be a political system in any way and would not attempt to push my morality on others – as I also hold to the holiness tradition of the Wesleyans, some Pentecostals, etc…

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