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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. TOM

    A little sexual stimulation isn't what is so bad about this. What's really bad about porn is when people become addicted to it and replace normally and healthy relationships and expectations with the fantasies of porn. I lost 10 years of my life in a relationship where my companion was wrapped up into porn delusions and it has really damaged my life. If you are in a relationship and look at porn more than once a month you may need some therapy or at least get out of the relationship before you become a wrecking ball to someone elses life.

    September 7, 2010 at 3:25 pm |
  2. Mommyof2

    Rob- yes, Jesus was not a Christian, he was a jew. That is correct. But the whole idea behind the Christian faith is to believe and follow Jesus. How could Jesus be a Christian? He is the reason for the faith. SO, you're insinuating that he follow himself? No. Do a little research on the religions first before you try to put it out there that Christianity is wrong and that Jesus didn't even follow the beliefs behind it. How could he? Duh.

    September 7, 2010 at 3:25 pm |
  3. Emanuel Burgos

    What a great and interesting article. Who would have thought that Ron likes Christian music? I do believe that we should engage and love non-Christians. We can even learn from them on how they think and why they do the things they do. And I would have no problems if Ron wanted to speak at my church (I'm a pastor). So, Craig, continue what you're doing and continue to be a witness by how you live your life in Christ. Who knows, you might just win him over!

    September 7, 2010 at 3:25 pm |
  4. kurt

    Jesus dined with tax collectors and befriended prostitutes; he didn't make himself look like a complete tool for them in the process though.

    September 7, 2010 at 3:25 pm |
  5. adam

    Whether Christians choose to shun the rest of us or to "prepare a table" before us, they always tend to treat those of us who haven't drank the koolaid in such a condescending manner.

    September 7, 2010 at 3:25 pm |
  6. DJ

    Tou guys just trumped "cats and dogs living together".

    September 7, 2010 at 3:24 pm |
  7. Mel Pie

    I just LOVE LOVE this story!! And I agree with most comments that state if we could all just get along despite our differences, life would be that much more pleasant and safe. I'd also like to see this debate, it sounds like it would be incredibly interesting and entertaining on a serious note.

    September 7, 2010 at 3:23 pm |
    • RazMor

      Mel Pie
      .
      .
      Matthew 10:34-37
      34 Think not that I am come to send "peace on earth": I came not to send peace, but a sword.
      .
      35 For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law.
      .
      36 And a man's foes shall be they of his own household.
      .
      37 He that loveth father or mother more than me is NOT WORTHY OF ME: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is NOT WORTHY OF ME.
      .
      .

      September 7, 2010 at 3:28 pm |
    • CatholicMom

      RazMor,
      All those verses you mentioned were not that this was the end or design of the coming of our Savior, but that His coming and His doctrine would have this effect; because of the obstinate resistance that many would make, and of their persecuting all such as should adhere to Him.

      September 7, 2010 at 11:38 pm |
  8. shawn

    Jesus hung out with sinners, yes. But that was to challenge them to change. They didn't affect his lifestyle-He affected theirs.

    September 7, 2010 at 3:23 pm |
    • craig gross

      shawn,
      i don't see ron affecting my lifestyle. i have still only slept with one woman...

      September 7, 2010 at 4:01 pm |
  9. Matt

    If all Christians were like this minister then Christianity would not have such a negative connotation. My hats off to this man!

    September 7, 2010 at 3:17 pm |
    • Jacques C

      There are other like him. But the idea is not to follow a 'minister' or another but is to make one owns mind over questions that are basically the meaning of life.

      The answer is rather simple for those who have core beliefs. That they are right or wrong will be known at the time of death, not a moment sooner.

      September 7, 2010 at 4:34 pm |
  10. Brian

    After reading this all I can say is: "AMEN!"

    September 7, 2010 at 3:15 pm |
  11. Mjckwmn

    I happen to be pagan, and NO I am NOT a devil worshipper for those of you uneducated enough to leap to that erroneous conclusion. However, I would be happy to count either of these men among my friends. I grew up surrounded by religion, but every time I asked a tough question I was told it was wrong to not simply (and blindly) believe what was being preached. The majority of my friends are Christian and I love them as much as they love me. I would NEVER presume to tell someone what to believe! I think what matters in the long run is that you DO believe in something and that that belief helps guide you towards being a good, loving, and faithful person. Whatever faith your heart leads you to. I applaud both of these men for their ability to look at each other simply as men who may not agree on everything, and that that is ok. That is where friendships are made and souls from all walks may truly find salvation. Christianity is a great thing, but I think the group could use more Christ Like people. And for those of you ready to cast stones at me please remember that as you judge me, so shall you be judged. I for one am ok with that...... are you?

    September 7, 2010 at 3:14 pm |
    • Jacques C

      There are no pagan. There just difference of convictions...

      The rest is simply BS.

      September 7, 2010 at 4:36 pm |
    • TammyB

      @ Jacques C....Do you even know what a pagan is? Why do you assume there are no pagans and as you put it, a difference in convictions?

      September 7, 2010 at 7:46 pm |
  12. MiZii

    These so-called religious are REALLY hypocrites. REMEBER the Bilble was HELD in one hand and the WHIPS in the OTHER...lecturing their SLAVES? Just THINK about it!

    September 7, 2010 at 3:13 pm |
    • Kelly Little

      This is true... there are many hypporcrites in this world, but they are not all religious people.. they are all types of people. And to be honest, many people try to use the bible to gain something that they want (such as using slavery back in the day to benefit themselves) – BUT not all christians were like this back then, and not all are like that now –and to catagorize a whole group of people as being one way is really what is hypporcritical to me. Everyone is entitled to their views and points, however, when someone truly has read the bible, has an understanding of who Jesus was and has an intimate relationship with Jesus our Lord and Saviour, only then can they see where the hypocrisy really lies. Like when Jesus called the Pharisees hyppocrites – stating they were clean on the outside, but on the inside they were filthy. That is pretty much how most of the people are in living in todays world – pointing the finger at others, persecuting others – when they aren't much better.

      September 9, 2010 at 4:51 pm |
  13. MiZii

    These so-called religious are REALLY hypocrites. REMEBER the Bilble was HELD in one hand and the WHIPS in the OTHER...? Just THINK about it!

    September 7, 2010 at 3:11 pm |
  14. good stuff

    well said.

    September 7, 2010 at 3:06 pm |
  15. RazMor

    .
    .
    Matthew 5:27
    .
    Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery:
    .
    .

    September 7, 2010 at 3:04 pm |
  16. RazMor

    .
    .
    John 14:15
    .
    If ye love me, keep my commandments.
    .
    .

    September 7, 2010 at 3:01 pm |
  17. Rip

    Oh yeah. Another religous freak with nothing better to do with his time then legislate moral values to the public.

    September 7, 2010 at 2:59 pm |
  18. K!

    This is sick!

    September 7, 2010 at 2:57 pm |
  19. Kelly Little

    What brought me to this story was the brief headline on CNN. I was taken aback at first, because we have seen so many good pastors 'fall' and I wasn't sure what this story was about. So as I began to read this story I kept thinking to myself how wonderful it is to see a real Christian servant of the Lord being open-minded and willing to stick his reputation and neck out on the line for another person who is not a believer. Some Christians seem to go against all of what Jesus Christ truly teaches = LOVE.. I am a true believer – I strive to be more Christ-like, than wordly. When I see other so called christians picking in mass groups and holding up signs that say 'you're going to hell' or 'God hates you' – I get real angry, because that mentality and action goes against EVERYTHING Jesus Christ is, was and forever will be. He was about Loving one another. God hates the sin, NOT the sinner. We are called to love one another as Jesus Christ did – not persecute others! Who are we to judge anyone.. I commend the Pastor for reaching out to one of the most popular and active porn stars out there – because guess what?! GOD LOVES RON JEREMY TOO! We have to remember that! We have to reach out to others who are lost and in darkness and really have patience and show love to them. How else will they see the real light of God if we don't do this ??? To God be the Glory in ALL things!!

    September 7, 2010 at 2:54 pm |
  20. Donny Pauling

    The world would change if all Christians took the attitude XXXChurch has taken. For 9 years I produced pornography, driven by the money to be made and my hatred for Christians – I wanted to throw my lifestyle in their faces as "pay back" for a strict Christian upbringing. For a season I denied God existed (mostly because I confused God with the people who claimed to represent Him).

    Along came Craig Gross and XXXChurch... they set up a booth in our Las Vegas porn convention. Over the course of 4 years I saw them do crazy things... like emblazoning the Bible with the words "Jesus Loves Porn Stars" and giving them away to people. Like doing makeup for the girls paid by the porn companies to walk around half naked, rather than judging them. And while that makeup was being done, telling them Jesus loved them and there was nothing they could do that would change that. They have remodeled the living areas of prostitutes in brothels, painted "loved" on their walls and embroidered "loved" into their sheets and pillows.

    Wanna see Jesus in skin? Look at people who do work like this, loving people out of the gutter.

    After 4 years of spewing hatred at them and receiving love in return, I finally saw what Jesus was all about. Without that hatred to fuel me, I could no longer justify what I was doing to people. I left the business and handed my life to my creator.

    Ron Jeremy is getting the same treatment. It's not a matter of "if" he surrenders his life to God, but "when". Because love wins.

    My fellow Christians, follow this example and you'll change your cities and your world.

    September 7, 2010 at 2:53 pm |
    • Lynette

      Thank you for taking the time to post your own testimony and experience. It sheds so much light on what Craig Gross is about in the midst of so many comments condemning him.

      September 8, 2010 at 2:29 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.