An Open Letter to Piers Morgan

Dear Mr. Morgan:

I believe you have been promoting bigotry and helping to perpetrate a fraud.

During both of your interviews with Pastor Joel Osteen on your CNN broadcast, you let the religious leader tell your audience that Scripture calls homosexuality a sin. But you didn't ask him where the Bible says that.

It's both an important point and an easy one to settle. You could have asked Pastor Osteen for the chapter and verse that he thinks calls homosexuality a sin. What you would have found is that he couldn't provide it, because Pastor Osteen was expressing his personal opinion, not quoting the Bible. The Bible doesn't say that homosexuality is a sin.

In fact, even though Scripture discusses "sin" a lot, the word never appears in connection with homosexuality.

Certainly there are passages in the Bible that address aspects of homosexuality, most notably in Leviticus and Romans. But years of interpretation have distorted their original meanings. And there are other passages that may even support homosexuality.

Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13 describe certain male homosexual behavior in the same terms as meals that seat Egyptians and Israelites together (Genesis 43:32). Both are called a to'evah in Hebrew, a term that was apparently meant to suggest something that isn't inherently wrong even though a particular culture frowns on it. The leap from "certain male homosexual behavior" to "homosexuality in general" is a clear mistake, as is the jump from "culturally odd" to "sin." Leviticus doesn't say that homosexuality is a sin. It says that some behavior was unusual.

Romans 1:24-27 also deals with homosexuality, putting it in the context of a penalty that God doled out in response to human mistakes. That's why Romans 1:24 begins with "Therefore, God delivered them..." Though nothing is specifically called a "sin" in Romans 1, what comes closest is the behavior in Romans 1:18-23 (primarily idolatry), not the punishment for that behavior (homosexuality). Romans 1:24-27 doesn't list human sins but rather God's actions.

Genesis 2:18, by contrast, suggests that it is "not good for people to be alone." If it turns out that in order to avoid being alone some men have to be with other men, and some women with other women, then Genesis 2:18 may mean that supporting homosexuality (and, therefore, same-sex marriage) is not only permitted by the Bible but in fact required.

Obviously, people may expand on Leviticus, Romans, Genesis and other passages in ways that turn homosexuality into sin. But these are interpretations, not "what the Bible says."

It seems to me that Pastor Osteen, as a religious leader, has a right to believe what he wants and to encourage others to follow. So if he doesn't accept homosexuality, it's his prerogative to spread his anti-homosexuality message. But I think it's dishonest when he pretends that his opinions are those of the Bible.

Similarly, if you don't like homosexuality, it's your right to say so on air. But I think it's irresponsible of you to let a guest tell your audience that something is in the Bible without even asking where.

This glaring omission is all the more surprising in light of your claim to be "challenging." Why didn't you challenge Pastor Osteen on this basic factual issue?

I look forward to your response.


Joel M. Hoffman, PhD