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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. Stacy

    I wish more pastors were like you. Maybe I would be a christian and not feel so much guilt for my past and accept and love myself...

    September 7, 2010 at 2:51 pm |
    • sally

      Stacy you do not have to live in guilt and condemnation! That's the great thing about Jesus dying for us. We're all in the same boat, all have things to feel horrid about and things that haunt us, but with Jesus it's a new day and a fresh start! it's not about being labeled "christian", but just asking God to meet you wherever you are at. God just comes and gets us and takes us on to the next step!

      September 7, 2010 at 3:31 pm |
    • Jacques C

      Look in front of you, not in the past.

      Being a 'christian' is a label like many others. Trust yourself and the beliefs you may have hidden inside you.

      You need not to 'join' to be part of a something 'greater'. Finding folks who think alike will offer some comfort but will also stunt your growth and conversations and 'debates' become more an affirmation of faith than anything else. That type of group becomes radicalized fairly quickly.

      September 7, 2010 at 4:47 pm |
    • Angela

      Stacy,
      GOD loves you and forgives you!:) It's the devil who wants you to feel condemned and unforgiven. The LORD JESUS died and rose again for you and for all of us; so forgive yourself and believe that you are forgiven and believe that the LORD loves you and begin to feel HIS LOVE! You won't be disappointed! I promise you that!:) Enjoy your life and know that you are loved and forgiven....don't feel guilty any longer!:)

      September 7, 2010 at 6:23 pm |
    • Jacques C

      Angela, empty promises that you cannot backup. You are not god nor are you the person in question.

      For one to forgive oneself one has to be guilty of something. You have no idea what this person is referring to. It can be anything from being the victim of a crime to having lost a cat. In that situation, how can you be so affirmative?

      God becomes a solution only if one person seeks a solution outside of his or her sphere of influence. God forgives, true, but we are usually much meaner toward ourselves and do not forgive ourselves for trivial things. There in lies one of the most difficult part of the peace a person seeks in god (and that is just the beginning).

      September 7, 2010 at 6:52 pm |
  2. SJ

    I do understand that Jesus loves everyone and went after Zaccheus. The bible also says this in Psalms 1:1 – Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. So which one do we take ? The key is how do ultimately deal with it. If you are truly of the nature of Jesus, well go for it but you have to understand that as a human you are not infallible. Because at some point, if you fall, you would've actually done more harm than good to a lot of people who followed your example.
    St Paul also asks us to run away from temptation as much as we can. Was he afraid of dealing with sin or sinner ? The answer is no matter how godly or Christ like we want to be, we cannot get there in this life and as such knowing our limits and pursuing accordingly is really the point.

    September 7, 2010 at 2:49 pm |
  3. Charlie Sheen

    Anybody do the math? 12 years with the same woman is more than once a night if the good preacher claims they actually did it 5000 times. Hard to believe. Why? There's the old joke about Wilt Chamberlain and his claim of 20,000 women. It would have added up to three a day...And if he was sick or something, the next day he would have had to do six!

    September 7, 2010 at 2:48 pm |
    • Donny Pauling

      Way to miss the point, Matt.

      September 7, 2010 at 2:57 pm |
    • Donny Pauling

      ...errr... "Charlie"

      September 7, 2010 at 2:57 pm |
    • Lauren

      The article said that Ron said that to Craig. Obviously joking.

      September 7, 2010 at 3:18 pm |
  4. Dasn

    Sure, love Ron and be a friend. But chat it up about sex, porn, etc? Invite him to church–where worship of God is the agenda–to discuss porn? Remember that the people you associate with define you and influence you, whether you want them to or not. Sure you may have some positive influence on Ron, too, but I think he's pretty set in his ways. Why don't you recommend people check out porn to just get a better idea of what other people are watching and to understand why you are against it?

    Geez, these debates simply become a game and entertainment.

    September 7, 2010 at 2:42 pm |
  5. yoyomo

    The porn industry has basically taken a beautiful gift from God, and turned it into a money-making scheme. It's the same as leveling a beautiful forest. They exploit the weak with money and drugs. They're basically filthy pigs who have chosen to spend the awesome life that God gave them, doing what, making porn. Come on, what kind of life is that?

    September 7, 2010 at 2:42 pm |
  6. vic

    Chris loves the siners (nonbelivers) and was able to attract them to make them great people. I think to give them a chance to know Chris, then need to be touched by him.

    September 7, 2010 at 2:41 pm |
  7. Priscilla

    The longer live, the more I have come to realize that where Jesus would be found was with the ones who needed Him the most. Remember His quote about, "It's not the healthy that need the doctor, but the sick." If I am to call myself His follower, I need to get out of the "ivory tower" known as the church and be out where the people who need love are. Hang out with them on their turf, and then introduce them to my turf. Don't expect them to come to me. I am to go to them. I am to love them enough to go where they are. I am to love the ones no one else will touch, because that's what Jesus did for me.
    Thank you, Craig Gross, for reaching out to the people no one else will touch and showing us how to be Jesus to them. May all Christians be more like this!

    September 7, 2010 at 2:39 pm |
    • CatholicMom

      Mother Teresa knew it, too!

      September 7, 2010 at 6:55 pm |
    • NL

      Priscilla-
      I don't think that you can easily dismiss your pewmates capacity for being "sick." I've been in churches during testimony time, and some of the regulars have led some very, ah... colorful lives, shall we say. Some of them regularly backslide too. So, I wouldn't say they're cured. In remission from being dirtbags, maybe, but not cured of it.

      September 7, 2010 at 11:05 pm |
    • Peter F

      NL,

      No one is ever really cured of sin. Through Christ, we are made free of it... but we all backslide and mess up anyway. It is just freeing to know that we don't have to be perfect anymore. We have been made perfect in the righteousness of Jesus.

      September 7, 2010 at 11:09 pm |
    • CatholicMom

      Peter F,

      Matthew 5:30
      So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.

      September 8, 2010 at 10:51 am |
  8. Boseph Heyden

    I like this one. If you read the Bible, you realize Jesus didn't come to help people that were pious: he hung out with prostitutes, tax collectors, and pretty much the lowest of the low to help them. And he treated them all with love and respect regardless of how they treated him. Remember that.

    September 7, 2010 at 2:39 pm |
  9. ildie

    Well, we should learn from ideas that we did not know yet, not from the knowledge that we got already.

    September 7, 2010 at 2:36 pm |
  10. Frogist

    Not to throw a wrench in the love fest here, but I think there is something amiss here. Not knocking the holy man here, but some of the comments seem to think it's ok to love those who are different just so you can get close enough to convert them. That's not love at all. That's being an opportunist. Or am I mistaken? I have heard how we should love and welcome gays/atheists/muslims etc etc because they are sinners in need of saving. And after loving them, they will, of course, change who they are and what they are and will no longer be sinners because we decided to "love" them. First of all, ummm no. That does not happen. As we can probably learn from every self help book ever published, just because you love someone doesn't mean they will change for you. And secondly, that's not love you are giving them! If you are only loving them with the condition being they will one day change everything they are for your sake, that's less love than desperation. I'm not saying that we shouldn't make the effort to love each other. I'm just saying that what some people call love, doesn't seem very true.

    September 7, 2010 at 2:36 pm |
    • Anishel

      For me, it's the other way around. It's because I love someone that I want them to know the Christian faith. I want them to know what I know, basically. And, I know that it's not up to me what they choose to do in life. That's something Christians have to accept. I strive to not judge others for their choices in life by looking at my own life first.

      September 7, 2010 at 3:39 pm |
  11. Drae

    ...and yet here you are, 1) having been to CNN's website, 2) reading the story, then 3) commenting on it.

    September 7, 2010 at 2:35 pm |
  12. Joe

    This is awesome. Just awesome. Craig's example of Christ's love is what we need more of in this country. Thanks for sharing, CNN.

    September 7, 2010 at 2:31 pm |
  13. Mike

    I still can't believe there are people who actually think there's an invisible man watching them all the time.

    September 7, 2010 at 2:27 pm |
    • Len

      He's not invisible to me. I see Him working in all our lives daily.

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

      Well, if it was a man we would be in real trouble, would not we?

      Wait! We are!

      Only thing, it is of our own making not of 'your man'...

      Faith is not something that can explained, reasoned or even shared, there lies the dilemma of believers. We can only use limited tools to offer an opportunity for someone else to possibly see something else than a void.

      I have personally experienced both the presence of god and 'satan'. Both are numbing, scary and quite frankly shaky.

      (weird, my speller wants a S in front of atan but does not flag for a G in front of od)... Is my browser an evil worshiper?
      J/K

      September 7, 2010 at 5:01 pm |
    • Rich

      Len, you see him? You see a physical person doing works? If you do and it is Jesus, please let us know if he really is dark-skinned, brown-eyed, you know, having all the ethnic characteristics of someone born in the Middle East.

      September 7, 2010 at 7:26 pm |
  14. Khaled Anntar

    People who believe in Jesus as a son, or Lord, or God himself or a Savior sometimes use weird and unheard of ways to try to attract people to what they believe in. Many of the Christian groups, either Protestant, Catholic, Evanglists, Mormons, Jehovah's Witnesses tend to Criticize each other and deny each other's faith; still some will try fervently to convert people outside their faith.

    I have some Jehovah's Witnesses who visit me in my home. As I believer in God, I just can't disdain anyone who at least have some basic belief in God. I know Christians differ on themselves. But I am a Muslim and I already believe in Jesus but not the Jehova's way or any other Christian's sect's way. So they keep coming and each time they bring me a booklet in Arabic to attract me more. They were keen to distinguish themsevles from the other Christian groups as the true believers in God. To attract me more, they said that they do not go to Jesus for help but ask only God for help and they do not believe that Jesus is a God. Then I asked "Don't you believe that Jesus is your savior and he will wash away all your sins" All Christian groups share that basic doctrine even if they differed in their ways. I accept their booklets and indirectly counter attack. There is no way I am going to leave a big house with everything I need and move down to a one-bedroom apartment with one bathroom?? Does it make sense for me to move? Each time they talked to me about a subject, I responded by talking about the same subject in the eyes of Islam and how it is mentioned in the Quran. So why do I need to become a Jehavo's witness or Cathoic or Evanglist even??? By being Muslim I surrender only to God, and only Him can forgive me or torment; I do not surrender to a human being or a messenger sent by God whom the Christians mistakenly believe is the son of God. To say Jesus is a son of God is one of the greatest insult to God. Christians even add more to the insult by mistakenly believing that Jesus will forgive all their sins? What's the proof that Jesus will forgive their sins? Has he done before to anyone?:))) Allah Says "Surely those who say Jesus is God have disbelieved in ME" " On the judgment day Allah will ask Jeus "Oh Jesus did you ask your followers to worhsip you and your mother as partners with me? Jesus the messenger of ALlah said "Oh my Lord, I only asked them to do what you have delivered to me to worship you only. If I said that you would have known it. You know what's inside me and I do not know what's inside you" But Jesus still loved his followers and left it up to ALlah to forgive or not forgive those who deviated from the right path of worship God only. Jesus said "They are your servants. It is up to forgive them not to forgive them since you are the most merciful and forgiving".

    September 7, 2010 at 2:27 pm |
    • Gaorg

      Khaled, I appreciate you sharing your thoughts. The Gospel and Paul's ministry clearly point out that Jesus is God. The Quran states that Jesus did not even die on the cross when we have the new testament and extra biblical sources like Tacitus, Pliny the younger, and Josephus all written in the first century that echo that Jesus was crucified. We have 400+ copies of various New Testament books all written within a generation of Jesus' lifetime – we have 6000+ ancient copies (older than 500 AD) of parts of the books of the new testament. Historically speaking, we have a gold mine of information corroborating Jesus' death and his attestations.

      September 7, 2010 at 2:45 pm |
    • NL

      Gaorg-
      We also have a surprising amount of evidence that Jesus may be largely, or even purely myth. Thousands of Jews were crucified by Rome, and doubtlessly some of them were probably named Jesus in translation. Nothing special there. We also have many ancient documents that give a very contrary view of who Jesus was and taught. Do you count them as evidence as well? Paul's letters (1 Thessalonians at about 20 years after Jesus ie reported to have died being the earliest) could have been read by people who knew Jesus personally, but people would have had to be very old indeed to have known Jesus as a peer and read all of the New Testament, and people just didn't live that long back then. The assumed eyewitness accounts of the gospels begin at 30+ years after the crucifixion. We have debate about portrayals of modern historical figures with live eyewitnesses so, historically speaking, we really don't have much to corroborate Jesus' death and his attestations.

      September 7, 2010 at 3:49 pm |
    • Dave

      Jesus claimed to be the Son of God. He also said he and the Father "were one in the same". The authority of Scripture is as solid as your faith in Mohammad's writings. You choose which one you WANT to believe. It is simply a matter of faith. Period.

      Jesus said to love one's enemies. Mohammad said to kill or convert them. Jesus preached tolerance and forgiveness. Mohammad preached intolerance and war.

      Jesus healed a man AND forgave him of his sins. " Which is harder to do?", Christ asked?

      September 7, 2010 at 4:17 pm |
    • Jacques C

      At the very least, you have the strength of your convictions.

      One main question:
      Why do you feel so threatened in your faith that you need to say: *I accept their booklets and indirectly counter attack*?

      For you faith Jesus is a prophet, fine. Leave it that. Why start local verbal war in your own home? You can only lose, even if you win. Not worth it.

      I lived in the middle east for two years. For two years Muslim friends, both shiite and and sunni, tried to convert me. It did not bother me and I never found the need to argue with them. Like you, I was given books, that I gave in turn to a friend who had converted to islam. I am at peace.

      Weird thing, the friend to whom I gave the books abandoned islam within a year. I am not sure what this person believe in now. It is not my problem and I am still at peace.

      September 7, 2010 at 5:14 pm |
  15. sally

    love this article! I wish I hadn't wasted so many years stuck in an incredibly legalistic church, fearing that I would go to hell if I stepped out like Craig has done. The bottom line is, Jesus rocks! He loves everyone equally. Yes, God has standards and we ALL fall short of them, but that should just make us treat everyone around us just the same – all equally. Thank God Jesus came to die for ALL of us – christian or non-christian. none of us are any better than anyone else – we all need to reach out to each other like Craig and Ron have done. Kudos to both of them – those are huge steps to take!! Praying for both of you guys – Craig, that God keeps you safe, and Ron, that Jesus rocks your world!!

    September 7, 2010 at 2:24 pm |
    • Jacques C

      Arf...

      The burning faith!!!!

      Christ did not die for all of us. He died because of all of us. The redemption he offers is reserved to those who take huge leaps of faith.

      W/o proof one has to believe that god exist
      W/o proof one has to believe that jesus is the son of god as well as god himself
      W/o proof one has to ask for redemption by accepting our responsibility in his death and asking for forgiveness

      That seriously limits the number of folks who will be saved.

      Where you are right is that jesus did not say: NOT YOU!. He left that decision to us, hence our freedom of choice.

      September 7, 2010 at 5:23 pm |
  16. bjob

    Porn affects 1 in 5 male over the age of 15....ya think it might be a subject worth discussing? Just say no isnt an option.

    September 7, 2010 at 2:23 pm |
    • Frank

      P@rn isn't heroin. Get over it. People need to accept and embrace their s@xuality and, for a great many of us -male and female, that includes p@rn and er@tica.

      September 13, 2010 at 2:01 am |
  17. chillimint

    It has become a fashion to link the man who suffered and died for his fellow beings on the cross. This is the most disgusting thing people do by linking His sacred name with all sorts of abominable acts. He spoke for a prostitute to be stoned to death, he stood with the poor in the society . Mahatma Gandhi also subjected to all sorts of shameful criticism by evil minds. This century is for who write, speak and do voilence and hatred. May God Save this planet.

    September 7, 2010 at 2:22 pm |
  18. John

    Taking the "I'll be friends with someone "like Ron" cause jesus did it. is about as pompous and arrogant as anything. Frankly, it's immoral from the start because it assumes he is better than Ron. Like "Look at me world, I'm like Jesus" how arrogant. The entire "What would Jesus do" thought process is a practice of inflating one's ego.

    September 7, 2010 at 2:22 pm |
    • Jacques C

      You may read too much onto that.

      You are falling into your own trap!

      September 7, 2010 at 5:26 pm |
  19. Daniel

    I know both of you would be welcomed at my church.

    September 7, 2010 at 2:20 pm |
  20. Alex

    Christians should always love all people. This is not the question. The question is whether a Christian can have an intimate friendship with a person who rejects Christ's message, believes that the Bible's teaching on sexuality are wrong, and advocates for other people to live sexually immoral lives. Jesus loved all people, taught others to do the same, and befriended sinners. However, he never enabled sin in others by telling them that they were fine in what they were doing. The worst sinners that he befriended were people who repented of their sin and made a decision to stop that lifestyle. The Apostle Paul very poignantly asks "What fellowship does light have with darkness?" If you really love God and believe that it was our filth that made him suffer an excruciatingly painful death on the cross, you will vehemently speak against sin and it will bother you deeply that other people justify sin.
    Everybody here seems to want to see Christians accepting sin. Let me say this very clearly. We CANNOT justify, cleanse, or sugar-coat sin because it is not OUR decision to define sin. God defines sin. All we do is deliver the message. If the message discomforts, annoys, bothers, or convicts you then it is doing its job. It also convicted us. The only difference is that we came to the foot of the cross to seek forgiveness. It is your decision to seek forgiveness in the same manner or simply reject it.

    September 7, 2010 at 2:20 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.