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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. Jita2060

    May I make a suggestion, Craig? Next time, put some clothes on. I would have loved to have shared this article on Facebook but couldn't because of the indecent pic of you and Ron (who REALLY needs to put a shirt on!). Thanks 🙂

    September 9, 2010 at 9:23 pm |
  2. Jita2060

    As a Christian, I don't ever want to forget about faith because it is essential to my beliefs. I do, however find this article refreshing. Jesus was a friend to sinners – he just didn't take his shirt off for the whole world to see to prove how hip he was to the people in which he ministered. I don't believe the problem of porn addiction in Christian circles should be swept under the rug as if it doesn't exist. Unfortunately, it does. There is a fine line that must be tread so as not to cross un-Christlike territory. If Craig and others can reach out to folks like Ron in a classy way, I think that's fabulous. Christians shouldn't live in a bubble acting as though we don't coexist in a world of people with serious problems (Ron seems like a nice enough guy but he has serious problems!). Jesus wasn't like that at all. So, I applaud Craig for having the guts to take on such a controversial issue.

    September 9, 2010 at 9:19 pm |
  3. Kesha

    Eze 44:23 And they shall teach my people [the difference] between the holy and profane, and cause them to discern between the unclean and the clean. People lets try and read and seek God for an understanding of his word. Love this man by giving him the truth. Rom 12:2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind that ye may prove what [is] that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. (LOVE) Rom 12:9 [Let] love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil;cleave to that which is good.

    September 9, 2010 at 12:14 pm |
  4. telson

    http://koti.phnet.fi/petripaavola/YeshuapromisedMessiah.html

    Article which shows that Jesus is the Messiah. The old testament text proves that Jesus is the Messiah!

    September 9, 2010 at 1:20 am |
  5. Mess Williams

    it's easy to fool people into Just this good will to all of mankind is good enough...true we should be good to people and instead of beating them up with God's word be loving and understanding...yet stil not compromising the scriptures to do so...Like Jesus just because he loved the Sinners accepts them in their state, Did he think it was ok that they continue living that way? Ummm NO!...He told the Prostitute for example to repent and sin no more...that didn't mean she wouldn't sin....but it meant that her life as it was needed to change and a person who truly accepts christ is definately changed in their heart. They at least are convicted about the wrong they do and try with God's help to live a rightious life OR Life free of sin...Jesus was here to show us what God is like and to also show us that it is posible to live rightious...that is one reason he was born here in the flesh like we are...to show us that we CAN live as he did...without sin and serving others,,,but when we do sin...we need to know that we can be forgiven through Christ blood that was shed on the cross

    September 8, 2010 at 11:31 pm |
  6. Mess Williams

    good article...but the only thing I see wrong with this is that People know Ron Jeremy....I KNOW ALL ABOUT HIM FROM THE PORN WATCHING DAYS...And they have done all this touring and Ron is still living an unrightious life. And I don't see where he is exersizing repentance and the attemt with God's help to change things in his life...Darkness can't exist in light. Jesus opened up and went to sinners...but if you read what happens after...the sinners repent and start to turn to rightiousness! Jesus talked and spent time with these sinners but he didn't run around with them...now i'm not gonna say the apostles never sinned but they at least lived the life of a christian and they lived everyday like you or me growing in Christ jesus and praying to change and asking for forgiveness daily and trying to do what's right. This minister in my eyes is destroying his witness to sooooo many...even tho he has good intentions and he might get thru to a few.

    September 8, 2010 at 11:22 pm |
  7. Mark McKee

    Christianity dominates the U.S. military. Hmmm. So I have one simple question. What is it about the first commandment that you don't understand? When folks of all religions are able to follow just the first commandment, I'll be more than willing to listen to "the word." Until such time as you are able to triangulate some semblance of logic, (for example, a military person of all people, should know what a commandment entails, since the military generally takes a dim view of personnel who would liberally interpret a direct order), until conservative Christians can explain how their values coincide with those of Jesus, a known liberal pacifist, and exactly the kind of person they despise, I'll have to conclude that the word is simply a bunch of hooey.

    September 8, 2010 at 9:37 pm |
  8. mike jones

    i think craig is gross lol he better be careful hangin around with ron(temptation), i know hoochies still flock to him even tho hes 63 lol but no, i like this blog. its nice to hear an open minded PASTOR.

    September 8, 2010 at 9:13 pm |
  9. Kristina

    It's cracking me up here, like reading people debate whether or not Santa Claus had 7 reindeer or 8. Who cares, it's fiction. Sometimes helpful fiction, for people who can't handle the realities of biology, but that's fine if it makes them happy. The problem with this whole argument and article is that their cross-country quest is stupid. Pornography is only a negative if a.) those involved are involved against their will or due to addiction/ lack of resources, b.) when porn is used as an alternative to intimate human contact or c.) if the involved individuals are minors. That's it. Otherwise, it's a vocation like any other. Who cares? You don't like porn, don't look at porn. But don't blow probably hundreds of thousands of dollars out your ass (sorry, faithful, I meant 'behind') blathering on about it to college students. How about use that money and that time to do some actual good? Maybe feed the hungry, clothe the naked..sound familiar? I believe y'all pray to a guy who did something like that.

    September 8, 2010 at 6:27 pm |
  10. marcia

    He probably does love porn stars! So what???

    September 8, 2010 at 1:25 pm |
  11. ?Curios?

    I'm just wondering how many of these people who keep referring to what Jesus would do, have actually researched Jesus or are you just going along with what you had always been taught? When was Christianity founded and by whom? Same with Catholicism...many many many regligions that exist today, that everyone bases their entire life around, where did it come from?

    September 8, 2010 at 12:46 pm |
  12. Doug

    This is great! Jesus hung around the prostitutes, tax collectors and sinners! I love reading some of the crazy comments! Where I see this as a great ministry is that it's about setting seeds and opening people's hearts to let the Holy Spirit do his work. If Ron Jeremy had a true heartfelt acceptance of Jesus as his Savior on his deathbed he would be allowed into heaven and even though he will be judged for his sins they will be permanently forgiven! I wish faith was a crutch for the weak as stated above, but living a life of faith in Christ is no easy task, it would be much "easier" to live in any manner that I wanted to...if using faith is an easy excuse to live a life devoted to a Savior then give it a try. What could it hurt? Eternal security? As Christians we are called to judge people by the fruit of their actions, but to many of us, myself included, tend to be judgemental. Here is a man that is stepping outside of our comfortable Christian world to truly be a light for Christ. Way to go. This definitely belongs on the front page of CNN as an important story!

    September 8, 2010 at 10:57 am |
  13. Matt

    I think this will be so cool. I think that yes of coarse doing the debate in a church will leave Ron out numbered by Christians but that is no different than the past 60 debates where Pastor Craig has been out numbered by opposition at the Universities.

    September 8, 2010 at 10:47 am |
  14. Carl

    I agree with you Craig. Frankly, I think the modern church deters far to many through their rules before love attitudes. I grew up in the church and I was taught and have through the course of my life, learned the truth that Christ came for love. He fulfilled the law, delivered grace and gave us all a hope. Yet, so many Christains maintain the pharissee attitude and set love aside as a second step or option. I'm 43, have loved God all my life. I love worship. I simply love God. I am gay and I am about to get married. I battled this 20+ years in hopes of becoming straight. I didnt...Finally, I cried out and reconciled the matter with God and though church is a place of frequent rejection, I still worship God. POrn and homosexuality are often closely linked...christianity needs to be open to a greater understanding and the possibility that God will embrace a gay man or porn star without a demand for them to be "fixed" first. A friend recently said, Forgiveness is not contengent of being fixed!! Its offered in love. If love is offered change does come for all. I hope my random, flowing thought process makes sense....

    September 8, 2010 at 10:46 am |
  15. Jayco

    I believe it is in Mark 10 (maybe verse 21) where Jesus told a man that he lacked one thing and when he explained the man left, but if you look at the first sentence it says "Jesus looked at him and loved him." This man claimed to be a good man and wanted to know how to get in heaven and Jesus told him the one thing he lacked, but he still loved him. He loves us all.
    I had rather live my life as though there is a God and die to find out I'm wrong than to live my life as though there is no God and die and find out I'm wrong. However, HE LIVES and HE LOVES US ALL!
    Some people get confused on how a Christian can love someone but not love their actions – just as Jesus did in the verses mentioned above. We are called to love everyone, but we are not called to loved everyone's actions or lifestyle.

    September 8, 2010 at 9:42 am |
  16. Thoth2012

    It came to me in a dream. I will sacrafice myself and go on a porn debate tour bus with porn stars and swingers, who of coarse just sit there quitely for hours on the bus knitting while I tell them 'naughty naughty'. Woe is me. My preaching at Strip clubs were costing me a fortune. Bill Clinton says techincally I still have had sex with only one woman. Lead us not into temptation my friend.

    September 8, 2010 at 9:24 am |
  17. Dana

    I think one of the things that too many people in this blog and in society are not grasping is this. Yes there are people that do bad things according to GOD. Everyone according to the holy word has sinned. And GOD doesn't see 1 sin as bigger than the other, except in the exception of murder (shedding of innocent blood), corrupting children (molestation, etc.), homosexuality, and blasphemy of the holy ghost. Those will condemn you to the judgement of GOD which no one wants.

    But this is what you need to know. The word of GOD has already defined what GOD likes, and dislikes as right and wrong. When Jesus came on the scene, he re-enforced the established laws of GOD and "fufilled the law" as the bible says. So what I'm saying is that when a chrsitian/minister speaks about certain things being sinful and wrong, that's not judging you. That's speaking according to GOD's law what he said is wrong. So if you don't like someone telling you that pre-marital sex, homosexuality, lesbianism, pornography, drugs, and a list of other things are wrong, you need to get mad at GOD. He's the one who said it's wrong.

    But to say that someone is judging you is an excuse to justify your actions. Would you say that someone is just "judging" you if you murdered someone? Or if you cheated on your wife? Or stole millions in pension funds from elderly couples like Mr. Maddoff? Common sense and your conscience would say no. But you can't just think that you can accept "everything" to appease everyone. Everyone does not believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of GOD and believe in him as the Messiah. Many people may know of Jesus, and believe that he was a great rabbi, but they don't personally accept him as Lord and saviour; there's a huge difference.

    So yes, you are supposed to show love to the porn star, and to the drug dealer, and etc. I personally know some big time drug dealers that gave their life to Jesus and transformed completely. But you don't embrace the lifestlye of porn stars and strippers to make them feel that there's no condemnation in what they are doing, but you do show them the love of Christ to let them know that there is a sense of purpose to their life that their current life style will never provide for them.

    And last, a Chrisitan does not continue to openly accept and live in sin. There are some sins you commit daily without realizing it. But you can't call yourself a christian knowing you are committing sin, and still having no desire or conviction to change. You're not a christian if that's the case.

    – Romans 6:1, the Apostle Paul states these words: "Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? GOD forbid."

    Meaning, you're fooling yourself if you think you can keep doing things that GOD defined as sin, and think that GOD will keep forgiving you, while in your heart you already know that you have absolutely no intentions of stopping. Or

    – James 4:17 "Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin."

    Meaning, you know what you are doing is wrong according to GOD, or you know what GOD said to do as the right thing, but you would rather do the opposite of what GOD says. Anyone doing that is purposely going against GOD's word which is defined as sin. So once you hear the word of GOD of what he says is right or wrong, GOD will hold you accountable for your actions.

    September 8, 2010 at 9:24 am |
    • mkv

      I think you did a good job at explaining what I had in my mind also. You are right. We are command to show love to those who are outcast, but it doesn't mean that we should tolerate what they are doing. When we love someone we speak the truth to them, in love. I believe what Craig is doing is a good thing, but if he is tolerating, then I think that's where it went wrong. Jesus never tolerated.

      September 9, 2010 at 8:33 pm |
  18. NL

    If crucifixes were made historically accurate ... all would be revealed, as they say.

    September 8, 2010 at 8:41 am |
  19. me, Philadelphia, PA

    I've seen lots of interviews with Ron, and while I am a little against porn (I go back and forth on it) I have found him to be charming and very respectful towards women. He genuinely loves women and didn't get into porn for the normal reasons of self-loathing and having nothing else to do with your life. He has a Masters Degree in Special Ed and he believes in marriage and family, really wants a wife and kids. And he's very funny, too.

    September 8, 2010 at 8:40 am |
  20. Butch

    Wow! I love this! Jesus didn't live among the religious leaders of his day, he lived with the outcasts and commoners. He lived with those the religious leaders looked down on. If he came today I don't believe he would necessarily appear in the great churches or buddy up with the Pope. I believe he would come for the Rons' of the world. So, shouldn't we Christians do the same in the meantime?

    September 8, 2010 at 8:00 am |
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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.