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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. John

    Where is Data when you need him. I've needed him for a long long time. I need his reasoning powers!

    September 26, 2010 at 3:54 am |
  2. John

    Isn't religion the need to be wanted, to be loved, to not be alone, to be something.... more?

    It's really a sad place to be. Our emotions can tear us apart.

    September 26, 2010 at 3:53 am |
    • Frank

      No. Religion/spirituality is supposed to be a path you follow to ultimately reach transcendence and reach a permanent higher state of consciousness. Whether it's Jesus, Buddha, Krishna or any number of others – the message is mostly the same. I myself have chosen Christ (I'm a reverted Catholic, even through I have my grievences with the Vatican) but it's important to be a student of religion.
      It can comfort you and provide answers, of course. Certain things can provide you with protection in spiritual warfare but that's not the main point of it.

      September 26, 2010 at 4:19 am |
  3. John

    I agree. I love asking questions. Always have. Sometimes I think people value emotion more than reason.

    September 26, 2010 at 3:46 am |
  4. jdunc

    Pretty interesting act- Ron lives in the real world and the pastor lives in the world of mythology and false hopes. But, I guess you could say that they each create fantasy worlds for their followers, which makes them very much alike. I suppose you could advertise the event as "Christianity on Viagra!"

    September 25, 2010 at 9:41 am |
  5. George

    Craig is missing two main points in his "friendship" with Ron:

    1) James 4:4 – You adulterous people, don't you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.

    2) Matthew 10:14 – If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, shake the dust off your feet when you leave that home or town.

    And a side note to you Craig: Matthew 7:21 – "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.

    September 24, 2010 at 1:52 pm |
  6. JimK

    Wow someone who gets it....talking to someone on the other side of a debate is actually beneficial. What a novel idea.

    September 24, 2010 at 12:20 pm |
  7. david kiehlmeier

    Bartenders and Pastors do all the same thing,
    take your money.
    It's simple, it,s only about money. You got money, you can buy stability, which women want. You either have a fat wallet, or a fat d ick. That is America.

    September 23, 2010 at 7:18 pm |
  8. Mark

    I'd hang with Ron, maybe I get lucky.

    September 23, 2010 at 2:37 pm |
  9. rena

    Jesus loves everyone, He just hates the sins we commit!

    September 23, 2010 at 11:13 am |
  10. Giovani F

    Sometime you just have to close your eyes and open your mind to see the light. Too many churches preaches to the same group of mindless fools who follow blindly thinking their salvation is coming to church once a week instead of reaching out to the so called lost people in our society. We as humans are the most intriguing and also the most idiotic species on the face of the earth. Even as we make fun of the Muslims...they are the one who took th Anglosaxons out of the dark ages...but they became powerful cause they saved literature of Socartes and Arisotlte that would have all been lost because the church deemd it blasphemous. When the leaders realize that we have to live together instead of dictating because we are the strongest to others what they can and can't have maybe then we'll have a start to a great world....but from the British to the French to the America to the ancient Roman man has alwyas had one goal...to dominate they world and then we point out this is what hte Muslims are trying to do....wake up this is what we've been doing for over 400 years now and if those Muslims were more like us...they would have simply destroyed Europe whch in retrospeact I'm sure they wished they did

    September 22, 2010 at 10:54 am |
  11. Blue

    Love the sinner, hate the sin.

    September 19, 2010 at 7:35 pm |
  12. cool mo dee

    God will judge us on the love we have shown others. Thanks for being a true example of a Christian. You can still love someone and disagree with what they do

    September 15, 2010 at 12:20 pm |
  13. 3b producer

    Glas to see Ron has gotten religion. Check out his first mainstream starring role in "Beaches, Buns and Bikinis.!"

    September 15, 2010 at 10:10 am |
  14. peace2all

    After reading the article...... I think I would rather hang out with Ron....... He seems like he would be more fun to hang out with, plus...... better stories.

    Plus,......again, possibly more ...'interesting' friends..

    Peace.....

    September 13, 2010 at 10:30 am |
  15. Frank

    Oh, and Craig Gross also looks like he should be wearing girly pants and fronting a screamo band. Nothing wrong with that. Just sayin'.

    September 13, 2010 at 2:09 am |
  16. Frank

    This whole article just reeks of self-congratulating self-righteousness. "Oh, look at me! I'm out here in wilds with the f!lthy l^stful heathens! Aren't I brave? They should be honored that I have decided to climb down off of my pedestal to show them the The Light!"

    Oh, please. Keep your guilt-ridden pseudo-morality to yourself.

    By the way, I love how the moral crusaders go out and immerse themselves in the very stuff they tell us is 'n@ughty'. This guy goes to p-word conventions and is always surrounded by p-word stars. I bet he's the type that wh!ps himself late at night on his knees for having 'n@ughty' thoughts.

    September 13, 2010 at 1:59 am |
  17. Junior

    HEY... WOW... THIS IS REALLY SOMETHING... I GUESS IT TAKES A LOT OF GUTS AND COURAGE TO STAND UP FOR SOMETHING LIKE THIS... GOD BLESS YOU CRAIG!!!

    September 10, 2010 at 3:17 pm |
  18. Paul

    I think this man, from what I've read, is being a good sample of Jesus' love to others. They're both sinners, it's just that one has salvation because of his choice to be redeemed by the cross. So many associate Christianity with the self-righteous hypocrites that pervade our politics and churches. This man is being humble and loving. God is love. Hate the sin, but love the sinner. Jesus wasn't a Jew. He was brought up in the Jewish faith. He was a follower of the voice of the God of love. Jews that converted to Christianity felt compelled to keep their traditions but Paul clearly brings out in letter after letter that it's not required by God to keep any traditions, so the non-jew converts didn't have to. There are no Christian traditions that get you to Heaven either. Just follow what Jesus said and did. Don't worry about the bad samples, look at the good samples, Mother Teresa, Gandhi (not a professing Christian, but obviously influenced by Jesus), Albert Schweitzer, Newton, Bach, etc.

    September 10, 2010 at 9:54 am |
  19. Bethann

    I put the responsibiilty of the non-believers on the believers...if we were more like Jesus then non-believers would be running to God like their pants were on fire and God was the water to quench the pain...with my arrongance and self-righteous anger...by the way Jesus was the ONLY human ever to have a true self-righteous anger, and He chose to forgive ...because we are not perfect our anger only proves our hypocrisy...ok...with my arrogance and self-righteous anger i disgust me and cause me more shame than all the Ron's of the world...they sin out of desperation, like a hungry man stealing bread to make it through the day...i sin out of one-up-ness and hypocrisy and self-righteous anger...oh look down on the child molester or the murderer or the porn star, don't take into account that my neighbor tried to ask me for help several times and i shot her down because i was too busy running to pta meetings or prayer groups...oh my gosh i disgust me...we disgust me...may God break our hearts and teach us to love as He does...May He open our minds to the suffering of others so we do not see the symptoms of their madness, but rather the cause for their madness...they need God just as we do...God i beg You to love us deeply and if i don't want us hypocritical people to find relief, forgive me for this... ONLY JESUS was perfect...do not let me hold against anyone this standard..let me show compassion and pity and mercy, let me also be broken and humble and truthful enough to admit i need mercy and pity...'A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.' John xiii. 34
    'The eyes of all wait upon Thee; and Thou givest them their meat in due season.' Ps.cxlv. 15 'Man's goings are of the Lord; how can a man then understand his own way?' Prov.xx. 24

    September 10, 2010 at 6:42 am |
  20. Bethann

    Let's face it...if more of us Christians acted like Christ the Ron's of the world wouldn't have to turn to porn to fill the void in their life...i put the responsibility of the unbelievers on the believers in the world...how many times have our selfish acts and stubborn anger quenched the small fire of a non-believer...yes it says that if a man truly wants God he will find Him...why aren't we making people want to run to God as if their behind was on fire and God was the water to quench them? I feel more shame for the christians in this world than i do the non-believers...you know that story that says a guy was given 10 coins, another 1 coin and another 5...God doesn't judge us on how good we are in comparison to others, only on how much we reached the potential with which He alloted us...don't think that because you aren't shamefully desperately sneaking into XXX stores God gives you a pat on the back and them a scolding...our self-righteous hypocrisy is more hurtful than their shameful desperation...God loves us deeply...now we need to let our hearts break for these hungry souls and beg God to forgive us and them...us for our arrogance, and them for their lack of faith...faith is a gift...we must not forget this.

    September 10, 2010 at 6:02 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.