Megachurch pastor Joel Osteen cited the Bible in his belief of marriage being a union between a man and a woman in a television appearance Friday, which also saw the televangelist comment on “The Bible Series” and speak about reconciling the belief in a loving God with the existence of human suffering.
Osteen, who leads Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas, appeared on “The Lead With Jake Tapper” on Good Friday and the host referenced the Supreme Court taking on two cases this week involving the Defense of Marriage Act and California’s Proposition 8, both of which have far-reaching consequences for the traditional definition of marriage.
Tapper asked Osteen if same-sex couples should be afforded the same rights as heterosexual couples, and the pastor cited the Bible to explain his beliefs about marriage.
“You know, Jake, it’s a fine line. We’re for everybody. But of course as a Christian pastor, my base is off what I believe the Scripture says,” Osteen said. “Marriage is between a male and female. Again we’re for everybody, but that’s where I draw the line.”
“I think we have to be compassionate about it all,” Osteen added when asked about gay couples having hospital visitation rights. “We’re not against everybody. There are certainly people that love each other and I believe they should have those rights.”
He added, repeating his earlier remarks, “When I’ve come back to the Scripture, as much as I am for everybody, I don’t see same-sex [marriage] in the Scripture.”
What is my view on this?
Or rather, what does the Bible say? Let’s take a look at recent history first. The sexual revolution of the sixties and seventies has paved the way for the lifting of censorship restrictions at a number of levels. Sex education in schools is but one example. But what has all this sexual “liberation” and so-called “freedom” meant in practice? In the twenty-first century we are now reaping the fruits of that of our past carelessness. The institution of marriage itself is under threat; the “normal” family unit is under threat; it is common for people to indulge in “alternative” lifestyles.
The Roman Catholic church taught that marriage was a sacrament, a view also adopted by the Anglican church at a certain point. This sounds good initially, because of the inference that marriage is sacred – and of course it is a sacred institution. But I have a feeling that the motivation behind such teaching was not so much to protect the sanctity of marriage, but to try to shield Christian marriage from the common sensual, pleasurable approach to human relationships that was prevalent in society at the time. Such teaching tried to suggest that marriage was such a holy thing that the physical aspect of it was irrelevant, other than for producing children.
The covenant of marriage is first mentioned in Genesis 2:24: “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” This original covenant of companionship was given by God in the context of the great creation mandate to fill the earth and to subdue it; to multiply and have dominion. It was a covenant of complete companionship at every level, including the physical, sexual level. But it cannot be compared with the covenant of companionship that one can enjoy with a person of the same sex – that companionship operates on an entirely different level.
The marriage covenant necessarily entails two people of the opposite sex being “joined together” and becoming “one flesh” in the context of sexual intimacy – which God has only ever sanctioned and blessed within the confines of marriage. No other relationship can be a substitute for that.