I meandered to WordPress to reply to some comments made on my last blog when I saw this on my MSN home page: “Pastor Joel Osteen to Oprah: Homosexuality Is Sin – But Gay People Will Get Into Heaven” (http://news.yahoo.com/pastor-joel-osteen-oprah-homosexuality-sin-gay-people-185334950.html).
My first thought was, “Who’s this dude?” At first, I wasn’t going to read the article but, damn it, I just had to! So, those of us familiar with the Old Testament know that homosexuality is a sin and, well, it gets kinda iffy after that because we’re taught (or at least I was in Sunday School) that if you’re a sinner and you die, you don’t get to go to heaven… unless you repent (or confess) your sins, stop all your wicked ways, stuff like that there.
The article is… not what I expected in the sense that it mentions this Pastor Osteen not really talking about sins when he preaches… I don’t think I’ve ever met (or heard of) one who didn’t get the fire and brimstone going up there in the pulpit. What he said to Oprah had me thinking that, hmm, kinda odd to see a man of the cloth waffling on something that pisses in the face of religious stricture and dogma.
The whole debate about sexuality and religion is an interesting one and one I’ve participated in with various people over the years and what I tend to take away from such discussions is that while a lot of non-straight people do believe in God, um, their belief in religion is practically non-existent. Those same people adamantly and insistently pressed the point that their relationship with God was (1) none of anyone’s business and (2) because it is so deeply personal, being bisexual or gay and sinning in the eyes of the Lord doesn’t make them lose any sleep over the matter.
I recall there’s a branch of the religious tree that allows gays to be ministers; that actually divided that particular church, if I remember correctly, into different “branches” (for lack of a better word) because, like a lot of people, it was highly believed that a gay person had no business preaching the gospel, just like that whole riff about gays being teachers. One the one hand, well, they have a point… because it is a sin and the OT makes that quite clear (along with the ancient punishments). On the other hand, their being gay has nothing to do with their ability and dedication in bringing The Word to the masses, something that makes sense when you take into consideration that whole Catholic Church thing and, on a personal kind of note, the fact that I had a rather in-depth conversation with a gay priest about this very same subject – and it didn’t seem to bother him a whole lot.
I suppose that, at the end of any day, what Pastor Osteen – or anyone of the cloth – has to say about it all depends on what and how you believe when it comes to things religious. Here of late, religions have been losing a lot of their credibility and, in some cases, we’ve read in the news where transgressions are being dealt with in the ancient ways, something even the prudes here in the United States deem as being uncivilized and horrifically brutal. Indeed, one of the reasons why the Islamic extremists are calling for our eradication is because their people are “turning their backs” on that religious teaching in favor – or to avoid – literally getting bricked to death, and coming to America so they can practice the more peaceful aspects of Islam in peace.
Fortunately for us here, our ministers of faith haven’t been ordering huge stockpiles of stones or other forms of masonry…
Pastor Osteen said this to Oprah: ““I believe that homosexuality is shown as a sin in the scripture,” he responded. “Oprah, it’s a hard thing in a sense, because I’m for everybody. I’m not against anybody. I don‘t think anybody’s second class,” Osteen continued, as he explained that the bible’s message on the matter, in his view, is clear.”
So, me, I’m asking (kinda/sorta) that if the bible’s message is clear on this, why doesn’t his thoughts on the matter of homosexuality reflect this clarity? Or is it really a matter of the difference between what his Calling dictates he must know… but, as a human being, his thoughts are more middle-of-the-road? Like, I’m sure that John, a former Baptist minister himself, wouldn’t make such a statement and even to me, someone who is, ah, not exactly the most religious person you’d ever meet, it sounds wishy-washy… coming from someone who, by the nature of his Calling, isn’t supposed to be like that.
I even found it interesting that he said that he’s for everybody when one would assume that he’s supposed to be for God first and foremost… but I could be wrong because what I do know is that ministers are people, too, so it’s not really all that unreasonable for him – or any other minister – to have thoughts that don’t quite go along with the whole “practice what you preach” thing. Perhaps – just maybe – he’s one of those religious folks who sees which way the wind is blowing these days about sexuality, relationships, stuff like that there and that, short of ordering several tons of stone, there’s nothing religion can do to stop people from not being straight?
This is a touchy subject, which is why it’s two of the “forbidden” things to talk about, huh? I dunno… this kinda threw me for a loop for a moment because while I don’t know about anyone else, all I’ve heard for a large part of my life was all about the wages of sin and how all sinners will be smitten if they don’t cease and desist. The article said, “Osteen’s main point in addressing the issue, though, was that homosexuality, should it be considered a sin, isn’t any different from other offenses. In his view, it shouldn’t be raised above the other sins that individuals commit.”
Methinks he has a point here; with all the other sins that we commit, this one seems to, at times, ranks higher than even murder on the moral compass. However, the words, “should it be considered a sin” is another rather iffy statement and one I think is offered up by the author… because, again, it’s not considered a sin – it is a sin. The statement seems to suggest that there’s some wiggle room in there and I’d even go as far as to “accuse” the media once more of putting shit in the game and trying to reinforce the sentiment (or the fact) that being gay is okay.
The late pastor of my church used to remind us of two things every Sunday he preached. One was that we were all born into sin… and that the wages of sin is death. However he’d also, at some point during his sermon, remind us all that there’s a place in heaven for those who believe in the Lord and those who have accept Christ as their personal Savior and, on Easter Sunday, how Jesus’ crucifixion and His spilled blood washed our sins away.
We all may not truly live by the letter of God’s law but it does beg the question whether belief – having that faith – is enough to get all of us sinners into the Pearly Gates. Pastor Osteen seems to think so to this blogger. A question for y’all: Is Pastor Osteen right or wrong in his assessment of this hot-button topic in our society? I’d like for those who care to answer not to get all biblical about it – think about the man who said it and what he does for a living more than quoting chapter and verse; I’m sure we know what Leviticus 20:11 has to say about this.