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September 7th, 2010
09:13 AM ET

My take: Jesus loves porn stars


Editor's note: Craig Gross is the founder of XXXchurch.com and the author of 7 books. His latest two books Eyes of Integrity and Pure Eyes release this week. His previous book Jesus Loves You This I Know explains more about his relationship with Ron Jeremy and other outcasts. He lives in Las Vegas, Nevada with his wife and two kids.

By Craig Gross, Special to CNN

I met Ron Jeremy at a porn show. A few years later we were sleeping on top of each other in a bunk bed on a tour bus. My family was with me, at times there were swingers on the bus and on occasion had some other pastors as well. We were on "The Porn Debate" tour of 7 cities in 7 nights.

Ron is arguably the biggest porn star in the world with 2,000 XXX rated videos. He claims to have had sex with over 5,000 women.

I started XXXchurch.com 8 years ago, created a software called X3watch that is keeping almost 1 million people accountable online and I am most often known as the Porn Pastor. I have only had sex with one woman who happens to be my wife.

Ron says we are just alike. He has been with 5,000 women and I have been with my wife of 12 years almost 5,000 times.

Just alike… Well not really.

Ron is for porn and I am against porn. We are opponents on stage. In fact we have debated each other over 60 times in the last 4 years. We have debated at Yale, Ohio State, University of Southern California, Texas Tech, and in a few weeks we start the school year off with another debate at the University of Tennessee.

We are opponents on stage but off stage we are great friends. That's really what this is about. Jesus dined with tax collectors and befriended prostitutes. I don't want to be known as the guy who debates Ron, I'd rather be known as the guy who loves Ron.

Love wins. My old pastor in Grand Rapids said that a lot. I have come to realize not only does love win, but love works and love waits.

Last year, Ron was in Vegas for Easter weekend. Before he hit the topless pool at Mandalay Bay, he said he was free so I picked him up in my minivan with my two toddlers in the back, and wife as well, and we all headed to church.

Ron loves worship music. If you don't believe watch this YouTube video.

He loved the song "Let the Redeemed of the Lord Say So."

Ron and I travel quite a bit on for the porn debates.  When we see each other at porn shows across the country we go out and when he is in Las Vegas or I am in Los Angeles , we connect up for a meal or just to hang out.

Ron and I talk about sex, the Bible, marriage, family, kids, heaven, hell, turtles, and so much more. He is never short on words. He has told me he is afraid to die. What if he is wrong and Jesus is really who he said he was?

For the last four years we have hit up college campuses and a few nightclubs with the porn debate. We have never been to a Christian university or a church.

Why not?

I am always the underdog and I kind of like it that way. Although, I think it would be great to bring Ron into my world just a bit, no one invites us.

The great thing about the debate is it is fair. I speak for 20 minutes, then Ron for 20 minutes then we do an hour of questions and answers.

Why is the church so afraid to hear the other side? I think it would be a great outreach to bring the debate to a church but every time I pitch it to a church or Christian college they say, "We could never let him on stage at church."

I don't get it. But then again, these are often the same people who say I should not even be friends with him, let alone on a tour bus with him. I know Zacchaeus was a short dude in the Bible but how can we overlook that story and see the example Jesus set for us to go after people?

Two friends of mine, Miles McPherson and Ryan Meeks have agreed to do the unthinkable. On October 9, Ron and I will do the unthinkable and head over to The Rock, a church in San Diego. A few months later on March 5 we will bring the debate to Eastlake Church in Seattle, Washington.

My friend Ryan is a bit out there. That's why we are friends. He traveled with Ron and me last year for a couple of debates. He said he would host the debate but only if Ron came back on Sunday and shared with the congregation about faith, God and his life.

Ron does not claim to be a Christian.  Why share a church stage with someone that does not claim to be a Christian yet? What can we possibly learn from that?

A whole lot I believe. I believe if Christians and others would listen to more people who are not just like us, and give them opportunities in our environments, we both might experience change.

What do you think?

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Craig Gross.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Celebrity • Christianity • Culture & Science • Movies • Opinion

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soundoff (498 Responses)
  1. mrrealtime

    The difference between porn and god is porn exists. Christianity is poisonous, evil, and stupid. Sex is healthy and natural.

    September 8, 2010 at 7:12 am |
    • Dana

      Yeah, only thing is, porn is not sex by a long shot. And GOD is just as real as the fingers you used to type your words. I know because of the personal relationship I have with him, and having had a personal experience with GOD. If you don't believe in him, then just say you don't believe.

      But don't claim that he's not real just because YOU'VE never had a personal experience with GOD. Funny thing is, I've met several war veterans that all said the same thing to me: "There ain't no atheists in a fox hole!"

      September 8, 2010 at 9:48 am |
    • NL

      You don't have to believe in God to know that promiscuous sex isn't as fulfilling as being in a committed, monogamous relationship.

      September 8, 2010 at 10:25 am |
  2. John

    I just have to say that all pornstars are sinners to the highest degree. God gave us bodies to mate with our soul mates, not some desperate women or men who want to get laid with a different person every day. You will not find any fufillment in this lifestyle. Those who support pornstars are sinners as well!.

    September 8, 2010 at 7:12 am |
  3. Tony Kaplan

    If Jesus was not who he says he was, than he must have been a lunatic to go to the cross for a lie. All his disciples suffered terrible deaths because they sow him dead and also seen him resurrected from the grave. He was with them for 40 days afterwards until risen to heaven in frond of their eyes. They sow the resurrection of Lazarus,the window's son and the man from the army's daughter. They believed him then, and we believe him now. The millions of disciples that went to horrible deaths because they were 100% sure that he was the Messiah. To day believers know that he is the only way to the father God, and is the only one that saves us from the lake of fire. Hell is awaiting those that mock him and ignore him, by going to the idols of the world.

    September 8, 2010 at 4:16 am |
    • NL

      Still, Jesus could have been a lunatic, especially in the eyes of fellow Jews. He only supposedly publicly claimed to be God when under trial, and he must have known they were going to kill him anyway, otherwise they would have stoned him on the spot, right?

      Many, many people have claimed to be messiahs and their followers were 100% sure as well. David Koresh, Charles Manson, Sun Myung Moon, Haile Selassie, Rael, Simon bar Kokhba, ... and many, many more. Cult leaders often make these claims with their small followings. Jesus had a small following, right, and if he were around today wouldn't we also classify his little band as a cult? Even Vespasian was seen as the messiah by many, according to Josephus, the same historian who supposedly mentions Jesus.

      September 8, 2010 at 8:39 am |
  4. Bruce

    This is the first time I have heard of your ministry. I have always cherished my relationships with my un churched
    friends. I ride localy with alot of motorcycle friends and through this met people of all sorts of people with
    different preferences to what they do with themselves. I like them alot and will keep on hanging out with them.
    You rock...... fight the good fight.

    September 8, 2010 at 2:02 am |
  5. darylhb

    I'm just curious, Craig – in all your years of debating Rick has he never been convinced by your side of the argument?
    Surely having him encounter God would be a win?

    September 8, 2010 at 1:57 am |
  6. watching and waiting

    @eric: that was a very mature comment....

    he is doing what he is being led to do and so do you – why does his lifestyle and his ministry offend you? he is doing what should have been done so so long ago: love people!

    not judge, not criticize, not fear, not chastize. the message is simple. and God bless him for sharing it with us, regardless of the opposition.

    September 8, 2010 at 1:56 am |
  7. Sean

    "Jesus dined with tax collectors and befriended prostitutes. I don't want to be known as the guy who debates Ron, I'd rather be known as the guy who loves Ron."

    So belittling and insulting it's quite disgusting. You say you love the man and are friends, but in reality you hold a judgment over him, and that's both patronizing and degrading. You look at him as a lesser, someone who is wrong, displaced from your reality. I know this to be true because it's how I once felt about many people growing up. It's what Christians teach, either directly or indirectly. It's a form of hate. Whether you think of it that way or not.

    September 8, 2010 at 1:08 am |
  8. brigitte

    As a member of Eastlake Church, I can testify firsthand to the amazing revolution that is rapidly spreading due to men like Craig and Ryan Meeks. I firmly believe God loves me, therefore I am to love. Yes, this is hard; and yes, I fail. However, I am committed to showing God's love through me to those around me...especially those who don't know God's love personally in their life. I am marking March 5 on my calendar now; not only because I am interested in hearing the debate but also because I want to be one of the people who, within my community, prove that Christians are not (always) judgemental, quick to anger, and slow to listen. God bless, Craig.

    September 8, 2010 at 12:44 am |
  9. nange

    Maybe the writer has a secret fascination with porn and uses these scripted debates as a way to justify it. Maybe he just wants to be the "living on the edge" or "cool" guy among his religious buddies. It's probably the most attention he's ever had. Come on, think about it. Everybody knows porn stars are cooler than "Christians." What you see is what you get with a porn star, unlike the broad definition of what defines a Christian. Obviously "Christians" aren't opposed to screwing or none of us would be here. If you don't want to see it on film don't watch it. Porn is here to stay no matter what. It probably makes as much money as what the church exploits out of its members.

    September 8, 2010 at 12:37 am |
  10. Charlie

    You are doing more good in the world then all of the so called Christians in mainstream religion. Fight the good fight and keep conquering with love. keep being a light in the world.

    September 8, 2010 at 12:09 am |
  11. Sameena

    Porn is a clever way to undermine american society. it teaches one half of America to degrade and exploit the other half of America- a great way to destroy the family unit! Defenders of porn are just too terrified of the cohesiveness of Chrisitan america and want to undermine it as much as possible. Unfortunately any woman who has dated in the real world knows the porn age has destroyed a generation of our men, who have no idea how to treat a real life woman or to have a meaningful respectful connection with a woman.

    September 7, 2010 at 11:20 pm |
  12. Mjckwmn

    @Jacques C,
    No pagans? I agree that fundamentaly what matters is the convictions a person stands on. However, I am a pagan, and I do indeed exist. My beliefs are my own as yours belong to you. I do not begrudge you that, but please do not be so presumptuous as to say that I do not exist. I am as real as the next person.

    September 7, 2010 at 11:04 pm |
  13. Tom Read

    Hey Craig, I'm one of the pastors for a church in Hong Kong called The Vine. If you and Ron ever feel like coming to Asia, we would LOVE to host you guys in our church. Love what you are doing – keep up the good work my friend!

    September 7, 2010 at 10:55 pm |
  14. James

    Ed Scott: A percentage of the human population has always been born gay since time began......not to mention the even larger percentage of humans who are naturally bisexual. Gay people are born, it is natrual just like in the animal kingdom inclucing primates from which we evolved. Gay people are your children, family members, neighbors, friends, co-workers, police officers, soldiers, cashiers, mail persons.....every walk of life. You need to be sending a message to gay youth to be proud of who they are, and their natural orientation and relationships are just as good and important than any straight relationship. Educate your self.

    September 7, 2010 at 10:48 pm |
  15. Chuck

    There is a tension that Christians wrestle with: give grace or tell truth, uphold a higher standard or offer love and acceptance. I don't think it has to be as much of a one or the other thing as most make it out to be. I have some friends that are so uptight trying to "please God" that they close themselves off to critical thinking and to embracing others outside of their own terms. I love what Craig is doing. He's not taking a permissive attitude toward porn, no lower of his standards at all, but instead openly and respectly exchaning ideas with someone (Ron) who clearly disagrees. The Evangelical knee jerk reaction against anything "secular" is such a turn off. It's repulsive!

    September 7, 2010 at 10:40 pm |
  16. Ed Scott

    Can't say I'm completely comfotable w/ministering to and associating w/ Mr. Jeremy but I will not condemn the attempt out of hand. Had a similliar experience in convincing (well actually God did the convincing; I was His instrement) someone who was gay to repent of that lifestyle. I was a born-again Christian in college at the time. I'm now good friends w/ an athiest who believes that the world will end in 2012. So as believers stretching and extending yourselves to some nonbelievers can bring glory to God

    September 7, 2010 at 9:53 pm |
    • CatholicMom

      James,
      Everyone is a child of God...God creates human beings not life styles.

      September 8, 2010 at 12:53 am |
  17. Donald

    The title says...."Jesus Loves Porn Stars"......Why would he (the preacher) think that Jesus if he existed... wouldn't love porn? Why would he think that God wouldn't love porn as well as porn stars. Porn is art and beauty.

    September 7, 2010 at 9:37 pm |
  18. Ozy Alvarado

    Who would Jesus hang out with the most (if he was physically here as he was ministering in the Gospel days)?
    Joel Osteen or Ron Jeremy? The answer: Ron Jeremy.

    September 7, 2010 at 9:30 pm |
    • Jon

      The good thing about Jesus is that He doesn't HAVE to choose. I don't decide who I talk to or hang out with, based on who doesn't like who. Too complicated!

      October 11, 2010 at 1:25 am |
  19. Bradley R. Purkhiser

    No wonder this guy is a preacher-man. He's as slick as "Slick Willie"! Read carefully the eighth sentence in this article. He's saying that among women who happen to be his wife he has slept with only one of them.

    September 7, 2010 at 8:56 pm |
  20. cliff

    Rob: The worse thing you can do is open your mouth about something you know nothing about.
    Your comment, "Jesus wasn't a Christian..he was a Jew," shows how rediculous you are.
    Ofcourse He was a Jew...he was the King of the Jews...and, as Scripture says, "He came unto his own (Jews) and His own received Him not!"
    Sorta sad isn't it?
    Not as sad as it will be for all who do not accept Him and confess Him as Lord and Saviour on the day of judgment!

    September 7, 2010 at 8:42 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.