Thursday, September 15, 2016

Pastor Joel Osteen’s Sin Or Not?

            Pastor Joel Osteen’s volte-face on homosexuality is certainly intriguing. Initially he said homosexuality was a sin and homosexuals would not inherit heaven. Later he claimed that God approves homosexuals.

            His radical shift is intriguing and damaging as well, for Christians could be led to believe that Pastor Joel Osteen is correct in his views. He is after all a very successful and a wealthy Christian pastor. 

            Should Christians follow or emulate Pastor Joel Osteen especially with regards to his views on homosexuality?

            Here is the background.

            A blog “Joel Osteen's Sin” published by The Huffington Post in the year 2012 was updated this year (2016).1 That blog was an offensive on Pastor Joel Osteen because the blogger quotes Pastor Osteen speaking to Oprah Winfrey in which he echoed the Bible and deemed homosexuals as sinners and that they would not go to heaven unless they repent, “When Oprah asked Pastor Osteen if he thought gay people would enter heaven, he answered, "Yes, if they repent for their sins." Pastor Osteen went on to say that the Bible defines homosexuality as a sin.”2

            However, in the year 2013, Pastor Joel Osteen, when interviewed by HuffPost live’s Josh Zepps, reversed his views on homosexuality. He claimed that God absolutely approves of homosexuals, “Zepps read a piece that he liked from Osteen's new book: "It doesn't matter who likes you or doesn't like you, all that matters is that God likes you. He accepts you, he approves of you." Zepps followed up by asking if that included homosexuals. "Absolutely," Osteen insisted, "I believe that God breathed life into every person and that every person is made in the image of God and you have accept them as they are, on their journey. I'm not here to preach hate or push people down."”3

            So Pastor Osteen knows in his heart that practicing homosexuality is a sin. However, it seems to me that because of the tremendous pressure upon him to be politically correct, he diluted the seriousness of the sin of homosexuality and made public statements such as “God approves of homosexuals.”

            I have not watched or attended Pastor Joel Osteen’s Lakewood church services, but I have read media reports that he usually does not preach sin or hell, “Last month Texas megachurch leader Joel Osteen was asked on CBS News' "Sunday Morning" program if he feels "like you're cheating people by not telling them about the Hell part? Or repentance part?" Osteen replied that "No, I really don't, because it's a different approach" and that "I say most people are beaten down enough by life. They already feel guilty enough."”4

            I personally do not endorse the style of preaching of Pastor Joel Osteen, but then who am I to object to his preaching? He is arguably the most famous Christian pastor and people flock to hear him, and his books are bestsellers.

            Since Pastor Joel Osteen is so famous and successful, Christians who follow him may be well inclined to be like him. They may think that since God has blessed him abundantly, he must be pleasing God, hence it is only appropriate to emulate Pastor Joel Osteen.

            This is an invalid thought process, for God can choose to or allow someone who does not believe in HIM to be abundantly prosperous as well. In other words, those who do not believe in the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ could be abundantly prosperous, for God could have either blessed them abundantly or allowed them to prosper.  

            Worldly success is never a benchmark for genuine Christians. If the unbelievers of Christ could be abundantly prosperous, then prosperity need not be a benchmark for a genuine Christian. Hence let us consider Pastor Joel Osteen as a mere Christian and not as a wealthy or successful Christian pastor.

            To recap, this is the dilemma. Pastor Joel Osteen echoed the Bible to deem homosexuality as a sin. But he neither preaches about sins (e.g. homosexuality) nor about repentance. To top it all, he makes public statements such as “God approves homosexuals.” This is as if to say that God approves the practice of gay sex.

            This then is the drift of the dilemma; if the Bible condemns homosexuality, then how could anyone claim that God approves homosexuals? It is appropriate to say that God loves homosexuals, for HE loves sinners. But it is incorrect to say that God approves homosexuals, for the Bible screams that God does not approve of any sin.

            God hates sins. So the wrath of God is upon the thieves, drunkards, adulterers, homosexuals, and the like.

            A born again Christian would not be a practicing homosexual. He would strive to be straight. A born again Christian may have the urge or the temptation to be a homosexual, but he/she would resist those urges to live a straight life.

            The much acclaimed and renowned Christian leaders are tempted to be politically correct. People like Pastor Joel Osteen succumb to this temptation to refrain from calling sin a sin. The danger of being politically correct is to make sins seem like God-approved deeds. Does Christ mandate us to be politically correct or biblically correct?

            Today, a small fry, or a rather unknown Christian minister can say anything and hardly anyone would notice it. But if this small fry were to be as eminent as Pastor Osteen, then the whole world would become aware of his words and deeds. Would he then have the audacity to say in the public media that homosexuality is a sin? Similarly, if he is given an opportunity to preach in a famous Church, to tens of thousands of people, would he preach that homosexuality is a sin and that homosexuals ought to repent to enter into the Kingdom of God?

            Known or unknown, wealthy or poor, successful or not, a genuine Christian ought to be biblically correct. A genuine Christian cannot be politically correct so much so that he makes sins appear to be a normative Christian lifestyle that God approves of.

            Should we follow Pastor Joel Osteen or the Bible? Of course, the answer is that we are to follow God and HIS Word - the Bible.  

            Does God approve of homosexuals? No! God loves them, but HE does not approve of their sinful lifestyle. Should we love practicing homosexuals? Yes, absolutely. We should unconditionally love a practicing homosexual. Should a practicing homosexual repent to gain eternal life? Yes, of course! Within this context, should we follow Pastor Joel Osteen or not? Absolutely not!

            Wasn’t it St. Augustine who said this, “Right is right even if no one is doing it; wrong is wrong even if everyone is doing it”? Let us do the right by following God and HIS Word – the Bible. Let us also pray that our leaders would have the courage to do what is right.


Websites cited were last accessed on September 15, 2016.


2 & Oprah Winfrey’s interview of Joel Osteen can be seen here




Dan said...

Nicely put Raj, thanks. As u say, right is right & this PC world we live in is so screwed up! I went to Lakewood Church when I was in Houston in 2011, but I ended up attending Westminster United Methodist Church, as it was closer to my original apartment in Westheimer area, but I kept attending even when I moved away to Katy. I felt that Lakewood was too big, impersonal & a bit of a TV show. There are a lot of BIG churches there. Before attending Lakewood I attended 1st Baptist, not as big, but bigger than anything I've seen elsewhere. WUMC was a regular church, with a lovely pastor, Jeff Powers & you feel part of a family. Everyone knows & cares for one another

Raj Richard said...

Dear Dan, You said it right, the most effective church is the one that cares for its people. I am glad that you experienced it at WUMC. Thanks for sharing your experience. Remain blessed brother.


Political correctness has taken over the entire world. There are a few who speak out against it. I was amazed at the prosperity gospel preaching by Pastor Osteen. I had listened to him once or twice about 15 years back on TV in the Middle East. Pray that people discern the right Shepherd. Very good Blog Pastor Raj.

Raj Richard said...

Thank you brother, Jose. Sad to note that even Christian leaders who are in a great position to glorify Christ often succumb to political correctness to dilute the gospel. Such is the way of this world now...I pray that we be faithful disciples of the Lord and not the world.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts.