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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. Todd

    Jesus' love for all sinners was displayed on the cross, I think what Craig is doing is exactly what Jesus did in the gospels being a friend to a sinner. For those of you who are not a follower of Jesus please check out the website thewayofthemaster.com a take the "Are you a good person test". My hope is that those who visit the aforementioned website will be converted to Christianity. Finally, friends look at everything going on in the world today, our out of control gov't, shaky economy, and the weather, hurricanes,earthquakes, wildfires, and the wars and rumors of wars going on and Israel and the peace plan that is often brought up and ask yourself if you are ready? Those who know Jesus as saviour and Lord know what I am referring to, those of you who don't my hope is that you will visit thewayofthemaster.com to find out if you are ready for judgement day. I writing this because I care about your salvation and your eternal destiny, remember in the above article where Ron said he was afraid to die. If you know Jesus as saviour and Lord you should not be afraid. Hope this helps anyone who has questions.

    September 7, 2010 at 2:19 pm |
    • bjob

      I prefer to work towards a better tomorrow and build a better nation for my children. The 'end of time' stuff is makes a person completely self-centered, everything is about them saving their soul. Look at the effort you put into your paragraph...all about you and a fantasy. wow. this is a mental illness on a global scale. And to think we bash Islam. Xians are just as delusional. creepy.

      September 7, 2010 at 2:29 pm |
  2. SHRIKE

    Religion articles, especially when it concerns conservative christians, are usually pretty stupid. But this one is quite hilarious! "Jesus loves porn stars" LOL.

    September 7, 2010 at 2:18 pm |
  3. Mr. Dumas

    A Christian pastor telling the world he's had sex with his wife almost 5,000 times. Priceless.

    September 7, 2010 at 2:16 pm |
  4. Maddox

    Craig,
    Your application of the example of Zacchaeus is completely out of context. Zacchaeus actually repented from his sins and became a follower of Christ. That is what drew Jesus to that man despite his past. Ron on the other hand as you stated has no intent on doing such a thing. 1Cor 15:33 says "Bad company corrupts good character". Perhaps instead of trying to be controversial you should meditate on Zacchaeus and apply it correctly to your life as well helping others do the same.

    September 7, 2010 at 2:13 pm |
    • craig gross

      maddox,
      i am afraid you are wrong. jesus was preaching... Zacchaeus climbed up a tree to see jesus..broken and sinful and everything in between still wanted a look at jesus. jesus said " today Zacchaeuss i am coming to your house" Zacchaeus did not "repent" until jesus made his way to his house. i will tell you that i spent 3 years with ron before he ever agreed to come to church. this stuff takes time and it is not a score card we are keeping here. you love people regardless of their beliefs or faith and see what God does...

      September 7, 2010 at 4:00 pm |
    • Jacques C

      By your reasoning, anyone who sins must be avoided and left out in the cold.

      To reach out to anyone that 'needs' it one has to come close to a person that blatantly does not meet your approval.

      If you were reading a bit more you would realize that the association with 'bad people' is not about being tolerant and friendly but about agreeing with their actions and eventually do the same, hence the corruption.

      I see nothing wrong to living next to 'sinners' whatever the 'sin' maybe. One can only lead by example w/o trying to flung a so-called righteousness in another person's face. Beside, do you realize how much you lose by not listening to what someone else say about their lives? A lot.

      September 7, 2010 at 5:34 pm |
    • CatholicMom

      craig gross,
      There are many people who do debates similar to what you are doing, Craig, ‘to help people get a glimpse of Jesus’; …and then….. ‘see what the Holy Spirit can work through you’!
      Also, We are called to see Jesus in each person….and you are doing a good job of that!

      September 7, 2010 at 6:32 pm |
    • Maddox

      Craig,
      What you are deceiving people into beleiving is that Jesus accepted Zacchaeus for who he was. But you know that is not the case. And I am glad that you pointed out that Zacchaeus did repent as stated Luke 19:8. He acted according to the standards set by God.

      Perhaps ron is trying to do that. I guess you really don't say that. You do say that he defends pornography. That does not liken him to Zacchaeus in the least bit. So why would you make that comparisson?

      September 7, 2010 at 9:58 pm |
    • Maddox

      Craig,
      What you are deceiving people into beleiving is that Jesus accepted Zacchaeus for who he was. But you know that is not the case. And I am glad that you pointed out that Zacchaeus did repent as stated Luke 19:8. He acted according to the standards set by God.

      Perhaps ron is trying to do that. I guess you really don't say that. You do say that he defends pornography. That does not liken him to Zacchaeus in the least bit. So why would you make that comparisson?

      If you read the comments on your blog the idea that it is okay to accept persons that willfully do not want to adhere to Gods standards is the message that your readers are getting and you know that is not what the Bible teaches.

      Unlike Jesus I cannot read your heart but God has given us the Bible to dicern the hearts true intention. Hebrews 4:12. It seems like you have made a business out of selling what persons want to hear but not giving them what they truly need. That being the truth of the matter.

      Instead of wheeling around with a person that defends pornography do something that takes you out of the spotlight and spend time with those who reall could use Bible knowledge. Matthew 28:19,20 Then again that might be bad for your business in selling an idea that seems to be what people want to hear not what they need to hear.

      September 7, 2010 at 10:10 pm |
    • Julia Jay

      we often forget we are not called to judge the world rather only the brethern- 1 cor 5 tells us not to asssociate with sexually immoral people- not at all meaning the people of the world(in that case we would have to leave the world), rather those who call themselves a believer- the bible states" WHat business of mine is it to judge those outside the church- we are only to place judgement on believers, never unbelievers- God will judge them not us. If someone is not claiming to be a believer- their lives are hands off for passing judgement- all sin is sin whether they play in it or visit it by gossip- immorality- and all sin has the payment of death- it i only through our acceptance of Christ that we open our lives to the word and to others for reproof and correction.

      September 8, 2010 at 12:03 am |
    • Maddox

      Craig,
      Your blog leads people to believe that we should accept persons that willingly oppose the standards set by God. Even after they have been explained what those standards are. You know that is not the case.

      Again Zacchaeus did repent like you said. He changed his course in life. So my question is how is that a good comparison to Ron? It isn't and you know that. Jesus may have eaten with prostitutes and tax collectors but they did not continue as prostitutes and tax collectors. Jesus did not accept that kind of behavior nor did he compromise the high standards set by God.

      1 Corinthians 6:9-11 clearly shows what is not acceptable to God and that he requires us to repent in order to be part of his Kingdom. Why would you keep company with persons who knowingly oppose this teaching and talk against it?

      September 8, 2010 at 9:41 am |
  5. MM

    This article shows that everything in ones life should be kept in moderation – especially God, religion and church!

    September 7, 2010 at 2:10 pm |
  6. Lindsay

    I forgot to add that Ron Jeremy is more than just a porn star. He has done some very kind things, is very smart, and it seems that he has been pretty open minded when it comes to religion for more than a few years!
    I know that in his younger years he was a special ed teacher. I know this would seem crazy to some but if you watch interviews with him it is easy to see how his kindness and gentleness must have been a great asset to his students and their families.
    I don't know how many of you watched Surreal Life on VH1 when he was on a few years ago but he befriended everyone and seemed to have an especially odd sounding but wonderfully caring friendship with Tammy Lynn Baker (I hope I am spelling her name right). They were friends up until her unfortunate passing and I still admire them both for having such a wonderful friendship and showing that it is more important to care about a person not their reputation.
    Anyway, I will stop babbling now.

    September 7, 2010 at 2:10 pm |
  7. Frank

    Get old enough and you will eventually know somebody who has met Rod Jeremy.

    September 7, 2010 at 2:09 pm |
  8. Shannon Nutt

    I've met both these guys...both are pretty smart cookies (Ron used to be a high school teacher, for those "not in the know"). But let's just say Ron is a better representative of his industry than Craig is of his religion. I always got the impression that Craig likes hanging out with porn stars more than he does actually trying to "convert" them.

    September 7, 2010 at 2:09 pm |
  9. The Dude

    The reason Ron is not welcome in churches is because of fear. Congregants might listen to him and turn. It is too much of a temptation. Sex in and of itself is often considered "evil" in the eyes of some religion. Often to the point of hurting the relationship of the people "allowed" to have sex, married couples. By bringing that into "our church" we could hurt the balance of that powerful message. These fears sadden me to no end.

    September 7, 2010 at 2:07 pm |
  10. Sniffit

    People fear change, especially those who believe that "everything should be the way I believe" and then tie it to their "salvation." I commend the author on his nice thoughts, but fear pretty much ends that story.

    September 7, 2010 at 2:07 pm |
  11. Kevin

    Just as much as Jesus was loving and accepting of others, lets not forget that he talked about repentance from sin. He came to free us from our sinful lives by telling us what we're doing wrong and offer us a better way. Remember that He was always at odds with the Pharisees and the people of His time because he challenged the cultural norms and status quo at the time. He challenged the people to rightful living and they didn't like what He was saying so they decided to Kill him. I commend the pastor for reaching out to Porn Stars, but that must also come with a challenge for righteous living....and unfortunately, in this world we are living in today, anyone who dares come out to do so will probably be just as unpopular and Jesus and may very well suffer the same fate as Jesus.

    September 7, 2010 at 2:04 pm |
  12. Seth

    It's nice to hear from a somewhat open-minded christian, but for a guy who's written 7 books, Gross has posted a terribly-written article. Beyond the short, simple sentences and the choppy, seemingly random meandering, I'm left wondering what point this article is trying to make? It's cool to be friends with people you're getting paid to debate? Dirty, hell-bound porn star sinners can be your friends? And if Gross is against porn, why would he pose topless with Jeremy for that photo? Seems like he's more about book sales and self-promotion than he is against porn.

    September 7, 2010 at 2:03 pm |
  13. Lindsay

    I am not a religious person and was raised with almost no religious influences. Now that I am nearing my 30s I love reading about various religions and have many friends of various religions but still don't follow one myself.
    I say that to lead up to my point- I admire both of these men and everyone who gives them a place to discuss their views. I admire anyone who is open minded and willing to debate their views in a calm and friendly way.
    Religion is a subject that can become very passionate for a lot of people and that can lead to hate and anger. When people like these men are able to discuss and debate openly and do it in a way that there is no yelling, no harshness and they remain friends I think that it does all involved (including anyone lucky enough to witness and participate in it) a lot of good. The world would be a much better place if people could discuss their views openly, calmly, and without fear. I have to believe that all humans would make a lot of progress if something like this was more wide spread and accepted.
    (Please excuse any typos- insomnia can do that to a person!)

    September 7, 2010 at 1:59 pm |
    • Janet

      Lindsay – I agree. Kudos to Craig and Ron for their demonstration that getting allong DOESN'T HAVE TO BE THAT HARD! I'd break bread with them both!

      September 7, 2010 at 4:53 pm |
  14. craig gross

    Thanks dovecom for the kind words.

    September 7, 2010 at 1:59 pm |
  15. Greg

    This article, to me at least, is what embodies a true follower of Christ. Someone who doesn't just shelter themselves in a Church for an hour a week, and surround themselves with people of a like mind. My best friend is a total Atheist..and most people don't understand HOW we can be friends. I don't understand how we could NOT be friends...if I wanted to hang out with people just like me, I'd just sit around with a mirror. When you spend time with people who's beliefs are not in line with your own, and you are challenged on what you believe, it benefits you...too bad most people don't realize this.

    September 7, 2010 at 1:57 pm |
  16. stac123

    look at all these men leaving comments about whats fun and theyd pick ron ,,,well life isnt about fun and partying and acting like little kids that dont know any better ...our lives are but a vapor here and then gone ,,, eternity is what matters and people are soo ignorant they only think about now ,, what fools you are... Im not a Saint Ive worked at strip clubs most my life and came in contact with nothing but perverted fools such as yourselves.. Ive since repented and asked the lord to forgive me of the awful ways Ive lived my life so far,, I built my own relationship with GOD and went to church only for spiritual food,, to enhance my knowledge .. just like there are demons very much alive jesus is more alive,, people better make better decisions before they die ,, and its too late,,, church doesnt matter its about knowing the lord and getting to know him and turning from the foolish things of the lord none of us our perfect ,,,, please think people ,,,,,, its not hard

    September 7, 2010 at 1:55 pm |
    • SHRIKE

      Yay, another stripper 'found the lord'!

      September 7, 2010 at 2:25 pm |
    • NL

      stac123-

      I can agree that "our lives are but a vapor here and then gone", but explain how your living your life for when you go to heaven is any different than somebody obsessed with winning the lottery? Obsessed to the point that they spend all of their money on it, and always speak in terms of "when" they win, not if? At least we have proof that some people actually win lotteries, but how do you know there actually is an eternity awaiting?

      September 7, 2010 at 3:16 pm |
    • kcheney

      I think it's great that you are Serving the Lord he is so worthy to be praised!!
      May you be blessed beyond measure! God Bless You!!

      September 7, 2010 at 6:21 pm |
  17. Art

    Finally!!! A Christian who actually trust that God is in control and NOT the
    fearfull,
    insecure,
    hateful
    Christian Krutch (or should that be Church maby a few are churches but most are just power and $$$ kruthes for the Anti-Christ pestors)!

    September 7, 2010 at 1:54 pm |
  18. Matt

    I really like this article. It's a great example of how people don't have to have everything (or even important things) in common in order to have common ground. Sometimes personality types just mesh well, and that counts for more than we sometimes like to admit. I'm a raging left-winger, yet I have friends who are extremely conservative. How? Because we respect each other's right to speak our minds. This author is doing exactly that for Ron Jeremy. And look! They get along and respect each other. Imagine that! Yes, I do think that people need to be more tolerant, and listen to people they don't agree with, if for no other reason than to learn where they're coming from. If Christians want to convert athiests, they have to start by putting themselves in the shoes of those very same athiests. It works both ways, too. Even if nobdy gets converted to Christianity or to atheism, we all still might find that we're not quite as different as we've been taught. Every once in a while, Team Jesus produces a real a winner (MLK, Cornell West, etc). I think Craig Gross is one of those winners from Team Jesus.

    September 7, 2010 at 1:53 pm |
  19. dovecom

    I'm an atheist. Most of what Christians do baffles me, because it goes directly against their stated beliefs. But, for once, here is someone walking the walk. Not planning to convert, but deeply respecting Mr. Gross for setting an example of real Christian ideals.

    September 7, 2010 at 1:48 pm |
    • dogboy

      Perfect example of Christs love.

      September 7, 2010 at 2:13 pm |
  20. Bill

    Craig,
    I think you are right on! These literal self-righteous critics above and below me obviously can't see past their noses. Also, Ron was an upcoming physics student in college, with two highly intelligent parents; i'd love to hear him talk quatum mechanics for an hour or so, i'd likely learn quite a bit.

    September 7, 2010 at 1:41 pm |
    • Drae

      Doubtful that you'll get that lecture. *Was* an upcoming physics student doesn't mean squat, neither does the fact that ones parents are intelligent. Sorry Bill but it doesn't just transfer over because you live under the same roof as someone else. You'll get a great lecture on being a scumbag and not a handsome one to boot. You can't defend Ron Jeremy's life.

      For the record, Jesus loves everyone – porn stars, murderers, child-molesters, adulterers – he even loves Hitler. That's why he lowered himself to become one of us to 'walk in our shoes', in a manner of speaking. Unfortunately that doesn't stop all of them from being judged negatively and spending their eternity in Hell. You only have to open the Bible for yourself to see that this is true. I don't like that fact any more than anyone else does, but I accept it as my fate if I don't follow Christ.

      September 7, 2010 at 2:32 pm |
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