Monday, November 9, 2009

The Ultimate Measure of A Man -- Letter to Joel Osteen

PFLAG Board member Rev. Gil Caldwell will be the featured guest tonight on OutQ radio’s “Derek & Romaine Show” on Sirius 109/XM 98. Gil’s portion of the show will begin around 7:00 p.m. ET.

Last week, Derek and Romaine discussed statements made by Pastor Joel Osteen on “The View” talk show, where Osteen said, “"What I believe the scripture teaches is that homosexuality is not God's best.” Tonight, Rev. Gil Caldwell will respond to Osteen’s comments and provide a broader view of faith communities as part of the LGBT movement. Listeners are welcome to participate by calling 866-305-6887. For those who don't subscribe to Sirius, a free online trial is available at

Below is a letter from Rev. Caldwell to Pastor Osteen.

Dear Pastor Osteen,

I am writing to you as one pastor to another, as a follower of Jesus who shares with you the Christian walk, and as one who believes that, too often, the Bible is used to demean and diminish people.

I have seen the video of your appearance on “The View” on November 3, 2009, where you say that “homosexuality is not God’s best,” and that, while God loves all people, for LGBT people “their sexuality is a flaw.” I am disappointed that you would use your position and prominence to perpetuate the idea that God made a mistake in creating those whose sexual orientation or gender identity are different than your norm.

I am dismayed that you and others continue to use the Bible to justify prejudice toward and denial of rights to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Americans. The Bible was once used justify the reprehensible enslavement and segregation of persons of African descent. Even the Ku Klux Klan, with their white robes and burning crosses, found justification in the church for their acts of hatred and violence against black people and communities. Following the words from the pulpits, the KKK sought to punish and diminish black people, whose “flaws” made them “not God’s best.”

Do you understand, Pastor Osteen, how your negative statements about LGBT people provide substance to misguided and violent groups?

I was a foot soldier in the civil rights movement led by Martin Luther King, Jr., and his words and actions have served as a model for my life and ministry. In Strength to Love, Dr. King wrote: "The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”

We know that this is a time of change and controversy related to equality and equal access for LGBT people. Lawmakers in Washington have not yet resolved the irrational and illogical Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy of the military; the state of Maine has just become the 31st state to deny marriage to same gender couples; and yet, 11 years after the beating death of Matthew Shepard, Congress has finally added sexual orientation and gender identity to its hate crimes provisions.

If we are to measure a man by where he stands during this time in our history, then your words have made you an accomplice to those who deny equality to LGBT people and their families.

This is a new century, Pastor Osteen, and I have faith that the God in whom we both believe expects us to cease using the Bible to support bias and hatred.

I have no national prominence as you have. You have never heard of me and it is likely that our paths will never cross. But, in the spirit that is at the heart of our faith, and as a fellow American who believes that the genius of our nation is our commitment to become one out of many, I felt compelled to share these words with you. I hope this letter finds you strong in faith.


Rev. Gilbert H. Caldwell
Asbury Park, N.J.


The Wagners said...

What you so eloquently said is what so many of us believe. We are the authors of a book, Ready or Not...They're Gay, which is about our journey following the announcement that our sons are gay. Rev. Robert Schuller Sr. made a similar comment on this issue in a Larry King interview in 2006 and I quote,

R. H. SCHULLER: I am addicted to excellence, totally committed to excellence. That's where I'm coming from. It's a different position on this and any time there's a controversy, choose the interpretation that is more excellent.

And I feel that heterosexual marriage is the more excellent way, and it surely is approved holy by the Holy Bible, and it holds so many more possibilities, the possibilities of having children of both the mother and father, the male and the female. I think it's all very important, and...

KING: ... What then does the church offer to those homosexuals who want to be together?

R. H. SCHULLER: Well, we hold the view -- I'm a conservative here. We hold the view that practicing sexuality should be within commitments of loyalty and faith and trust, and so we do not approve or launch --

KING: So not even a state, a union?

R. H. SCHULLER: No, no.

Thank you for writing your letter. We also wrote a letter to Pastor Osteen - nobody is going to tell us our son can't be God' best or Excellent in God's eyes. Paul & Hjordy Wagner

Anonymous said...

Wellsaid and thank you for saying it!

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