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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. Davren

    This is an interesting read. Jesus was known for hanging with those the Pharisees and Sadducees "the religious" people of his day had issue with. Jesus himself claimed that he came for the sick, not the so called healthy.

    As long as this Pastor is upholding the standards of the Biblical faith he claims to hold, then I don't see an issue with this arrangement. He clearly stated in the article that he and Ron disagree and travel the country basically disagreeing over and over again, but he still appreciates that man as a human being.

    That's true Christianity. Reaching out to the world and being a light to others, not only in talk but actions. I've heard of xxxchurch.com and they do alot of great things for the people of God when it comes to this issue.

    God Bless him.

    September 7, 2010 at 4:04 pm |
  2. RazMor

    .
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    Titus 1:2
    In hope of eternal life, which God, THAT CANNOT LIE, promised before the world began;
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    .
    .

    September 7, 2010 at 4:02 pm |
  3. RazMor

    .
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    James 4:5
    Do ye think that the "SCRIPTURE saith in VAIN", The spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy?
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    Jeremiah 11:3
    And say thou unto them, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel; "CURSED" be the man that obeyeth not the words of this covenant,
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    GOD CAN NOT LIE.

    September 7, 2010 at 4:01 pm |
  4. NL

    In the beatitudes Jesus specified certain groups for special consideration by God, like the meek, the merciful, the peacemakers and so on. Still there is a growing trend, especially in evangelical circles, to devalue meek behavior. To scorn being merciful. To suspect anyone suggesting peace. Their view of Jesus is,sword in hand, unmerciful to the sinner, bringing war. Something has certainly gone wonky in Christendom.

    September 7, 2010 at 3:58 pm |
    • Kelly Little

      There are 'radical' types everywhere – in all relgions.. there are some religions/churches/whatever who don't want to get involved or get their hands dirty, so they throw cash in a basket and call it a day -- there are those who are just so ritualistic that they miss the whole word of God altogether. Then, there are people who want to live as Jesus did – asking WWJD in all aspects of their lives and these are the people reaching out their own hands (such as this pastor is) and making a one on one difference with those people who are lost, living in sin and don't think that anyone (let alone God/Jesus) would love them and forgive them. Showing the love of Christ is essential - we shouldn't catagorize a group of people as 'getting off track', because not all of us are 🙂

      September 9, 2010 at 5:34 pm |
  5. Alan

    Yes, it's a great idea to have him at a real church. Jesus LOVED sinners; all sinners. I think a lot of Christians forget the fact that the Bible states ALL have sinned and come short of the glory of God. And yet, He loved us all so much, that He came to SAVE the world, NOT condemn it. And sadly, we so many "Christian's" condemning homosexuals, the porn industry, etc. and yet they don't see the plank in their own eyes (ie. whatever their darling sin might be that the world can't see, but they know about it.) Jesus was all about loving anyone, accepting them where they were at, but then helping them to change into something better. But only Jesus can do that. Not you or I. Let us lead people to Christ, and then let Christ change their hearts.

    September 7, 2010 at 3:58 pm |
    • Kelly Little

      Amen! Come on now, that's what I'm talking about! God hates the sin, but LOVES the sinner.... We all need to look at the planks in our own eye before pointing and judging others.. because we are called to love one another, not condemn. We aren't worthy of salvation, it's a gift to us! Amen! Jesus died for EVERYONE... EVERYONE!! We must reach out to others who are lost and unaware of the word.

      September 9, 2010 at 5:21 pm |
  6. RazMor

    .
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    1 Corinthians 6:9-10
    9 Know ye not that the unrighteous shall "N O T" inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: NEITHER fornicators, NOR idolaters, "NOR ADULTERERS", NOR effeminate, NOR abusers of themselves with mankind,

    10 NOR thieves, nor covetous, NOR drunkards, NOR revilers, NOR extortioners, "SHALL INHERIT THE KINGDOM OF GOD".
    .
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    September 7, 2010 at 3:55 pm |
  7. RazMor

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

    September 7, 2010 at 3:53 pm |
  8. Tom

    Since this is a belief blog. I believe the supernatural world is real. Jesus and other cast out a lot of devils. For example, there was a prostitute out of which Jesus cast out seven demons. Best example: Legion and the possessed man. I believe that those porn dudes have severe ties into the demonic realm and it is affecting the environment. May be it is time to see our world from the viewpoint of supernatural realities.

    September 7, 2010 at 3:49 pm |
  9. Sarcasmo

    Nothing in this article addresses the overall question: Who cares who sleeps with who? There's an entire universe to explore out there. Get over the intercourse part. People are like monkeys, only annoying.

    September 7, 2010 at 3:48 pm |
  10. perfectdarkling

    What a great picture of REAL Christianity.

    September 7, 2010 at 3:47 pm |
  11. Robert

    I don't understand where everyone get's the "love, tolerance" from the christian faith. Christianity isn't about tolerance, it's about division. It's taking sides. There are good people (the "saved") then there are awful people who should burn in hell. Sure, the "saved" try to "convert" the latter to the other side... but of course they've got to change their evil ways. It doesn't matter if it sounds irrational, because the bible itself says the people of this world will not understand what Christians are talking about, nor why they act how they do.

    September 7, 2010 at 3:41 pm |
    • RazMor

      .
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      Mark 4:11
      11 And he said unto them, Unto you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God: but unto them that are without, all these things are done in PARABLES:
      .
      .

      September 7, 2010 at 3:44 pm |
    • Aaron

      I think you are missing the mark Robert. The Bible says that "All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God". Christianity is about the belief that since God loves us, that we should dedicate our lives to his service. That includes going out into the world and telling other people about that love and the sacrifice that Jesus made.

      September 7, 2010 at 3:45 pm |
    • RazMor

      .
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      Ecclesiastes 12:13
      13 Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: "Fear God, and keep his commandments": for this is the "WHOLE DUTY OF MAN".

      .
      .

      September 7, 2010 at 3:49 pm |
    • Donny Pauling

      The world would change if all Christians took the attitude XXXChurch has taken, rather than ignorant views such as yours, Robert.

      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 3:52 pm |
    • sally

      Robert, I'd like to know one thing – how did YOU get saved? Why are YOU this special person who thinks they were never on the "evil" side, who never needed grace, who never needed God to come along side and show you a better way? You think YOU had anything whatsoever in your own self to do with your salvation? You were somehow a "good" one?? How utterly and foolishly arrogant. We have ALL come from places of brokenness. If we cannot remember that place, and in turn help other people, we have absolutely no business talking to anyone about God. And I for one would appreciate it if YOU stopped.

      September 7, 2010 at 4:25 pm |
    • Kelly Little

      Robert – Christians have their beliefs, just like other religions have their beliefs (Judaism, Buddhist, etc) - but we do have tolerance within us because we are striving to be more Christ-like, rather than worldly. There are some people who cause division, but are they all Christians? I don't think so. People are people. We all have sinned, we all can fall. The point here is that we believe we are called to spread the word of the Lord and in doing that we are persecuted by many people who do not want to change their lives from the world of sin.. and that is their choice. Only God can save people – that is why Jesus died on the cross for ALL of us, whether they believe it or not, the choice is theirs to make. Are Christians perfect? Absolutely not, the only way we can be peaceful, forgiving, loving, tolerant, etc of those who persecute us is because we have the Holy Spirit within us. And you can disagree all you want, it really doesn't matter – because I am who I am, I believe what I believe and you are who you are. But in that – I will still show you respect and show kindness because that is what my Jesus would do. And Jesus is the one I look to as a role model for my life. None of us can save anyone...the power lies within Jesus- He is the Saviour. Why is it that people always use Jesus or God's name in vain? Because there is TRUE power in their names... you don't hear people blaspheming Mohummad or Buddah's name... There is power in the blood that was shed on that cross.

      September 9, 2010 at 5:10 pm |
  12. mdn

    If you need a debate between these two individuals to clear up the question regarding porn, then yod need some serious help.

    September 7, 2010 at 3:40 pm |
  13. patti

    I do not try to convert anyone. The one spiritual being above us loves all of us greg. We have one good talent, we should share it with the world.

    September 7, 2010 at 3:40 pm |
  14. Jojo

    Great job getting this issue out there for people to confront, listen and debate with patience and love. Many Xtian men spend countless hours addicted to porn and feeling like garbage for being "weak." Talk about it, stop fighting it and put it into perspective. Great article.

    September 7, 2010 at 3:39 pm |
  15. Colemada

    We need to let people who are for and against a lot of things in this world check out the story of these two guys. I quote this from a movie a lot, but it's very true...."It's amazing what a little harmony will do"

    September 7, 2010 at 3:36 pm |
  16. Mojonaamdi

    This is just a guy getting his kicks and using his opposition (or is it really?) as an excuse to go to porn shows, etc. I suppose that he has a collection of porn dvds for academic reasons too.
    Gimme a break!

    September 7, 2010 at 3:35 pm |
  17. ljheidel

    I clicked on this story expecting to be upset by the end of it, but instead I was inspired. If more people of all faiths (and political affiliations) took a position of respectful engagement towards those that didn't share their ideals, rather than self-righteously dismissing the other side, or jamming their beliefs down the throats of those who disagreed, we'd all be better off.

    September 7, 2010 at 3:35 pm |
    • RazMor

      .
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      Mark 7:21
      21 For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, ADULTERIES, fornications, murders,
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      Mark 7:22-23
      22 Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness:
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      23 All these evil things come from within, and DEFILE THE MAN.
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      .

      September 7, 2010 at 3:39 pm |
    • Mel Pie

      RazMor – I'm not sure you understand what is happening here? Sort of besides the point – Ron Jeremy is not married therefore he is not committing a sin so I'm not sure why you keep bringing that up. ?? And he's not catholic or practising any religion so bringing up the bible in reference to things he may or may not have done is irrelevant.
      Maybe you should read the article again seeing as you're clearly missing the point.

      September 7, 2010 at 4:06 pm |
    • CatholicMom

      Mel Pie,
      If Ron is doing all the things that the article states, then he is fornicating.
      Just because someone doesn’t believe the Truth doesn’t change the Truth.

      September 7, 2010 at 11:48 pm |
    • Jillybean

      Raz Mor, what us your purpose of throwing out all these scriptures. To judge and condemn by your own interpretations? Yes the Word is Truth. But someone that doesn't know Jesus cannot understand the whole of the scriptural message. Especially when throwing out a verse at a time and not explaining its context. Choosing single verses can get dangerous. They must first know the gospel and through the power of the Holy Spirit alone (not you or I) be transformed through the Word. You are doing nothing but inflaming.

      September 8, 2010 at 12:21 am |
  18. Aaron

    From the perspective of an active, practicing Christian who almost lost his marriage to pornography addiction, I have to say that this is an incredibly important topic to bring in front of faith-based communities. Whether you believe like I do that Pornography is morally indefensible and "sinful", or you think that its just fine, the fact remains that there are people whose lives are ruined because of it, and they feel alone.

    I watched the debate at Yale (recording) and I was struck by how hostile the crowd was towards Craig and his fellow paster (name I cannot remember). Some 'questions' were downright vicious. It will be interesting to see if the debates in a faith-based setting are just as hostile towards the opposing viewpoint, or if my fellow Christians choose to exemplify the love that Christ showed.

    Also, if you struggle with Pornography or Sexual Addiction, you are not alone and there is hope. You need to reach out though, there are faith-based groups based in churches that are quite good, or SA groups that will also help you. If you have experienced abuse in the past or don't feel comfortable joining a group, please seek out a counselor or therapist who deals with sexual addiction specifically – look for one that has a similar belief system to yours. I go to Dayspring Family Services in Tigard Oregon and they have been a big help in overcoming this mountain in my life.

    September 7, 2010 at 3:34 pm |
  19. RazMor

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

    September 7, 2010 at 3:33 pm |
  20. Rob

    Craig...you are the underdog at secular locations, but Ron would be the underdog in a Christian setting. Perhaps your agenda could be different. Not why porn is wrong, but why one would choose that kind of lifestyle and does it reflect the love of God. Be an interesting discussion.

    September 7, 2010 at 3:32 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.