May 13, 2008

So Where DOES Joel Osteen Stand on Homosexuality?

It's interesting to see how different sources can spin the same story different ways. This morning, Sharone posted about the Soulforce version of the meeting Jay Bakker had with Lakewood Church Pastor Joel Osteen. Tonight, I'm linking to and excerpting from the story on The Christian Post, where the headline is "Joel Osteen Maintains Homosexuality Is a Sin."

Interestingly, Joel Osteen is not quoted in this article. Instead, a church spokesman stated Lakewood's position without directly quoting his pastor:

The group of 30 met with Osteen after service as the megapastor was greeting hundreds of visitors. The Osteens – including the pastor's mother, Dodie, and wife, Victoria – welcomed Bakker and the guests from Soulforce, according to Lakewood spokesman Donald Iloff, who added that the church does not turn visitors away.

Joel Osteen, his brother, Paul, and Iloff then met privately with Bakker and there they discussed faith, family and LGBT people.

"It was a very cordial, very nice meeting," Iloff told The Christian Post on Tuesday. "But ultimately through our conversations, we continued to disagree with Soulforce and Jay's position."

Iloff says Bakker, whose mother is somewhat of a legend in the LGBT community, and the groups involved in the pro-gay campaign want the megachurches not to see homosexuality as sin.

Although Osteen and leaders at Lakewood open their doors to all visitors, Iloff says they "believe homosexuality is sin" and that "it is disobedience under God."

He further affirmed that they will maintain that position.

Here is the closest this article could come to quoting Osteen:

Osteen, who authored bestselling book Your Best Life Now, had remained largely mum about the issue of homosexuality but indicated in public interviews that he doesn't agree with it.

"I will say we don't see homosexuality as the worst sin," Iloff commented. "Sin is sin."

While I give Osteen credit for being cordial and taking time to meet with Jay Bakker and other Soulforce representatives, I can't help but get the feeling he has intentionally placed himself safely on the fence here.

I have seen Joel Osteen preach numerous times on television, and found his message to be positive and uplifting, but I've never been sure how much depth was behind it.

Call me cynical here, but I wonder if Osteen is intentionally placing himself in a position where nobody is mad at him and, dare I say, would stop buying his books, CDs, etc.

I'm thankful a pastor of his popularity and public speaking skills is not an avowed enemy of the GLBT community, but he's not much of a friend either.

Wake me up when he takes a stand.

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