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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. Jacques C

    That is another story altogether.

    History repeating itself. Jesus did warn about being blind and self righteous. He even condemned the 'religious leaders' of his time.

    September 7, 2010 at 4:41 pm |
  2. oda155

    Ok… while I do agree with not judging RJ for his “career path”, because I can certainly appreciate his “work”… but I would like to take a minute to do the math here, and make another note worthy of saying OK…

    “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.”, says Craig… Ok, over 12 years, that 417 per year… or every night and twice on weekends. REALLY! Next, Craig, you really should choose your words more carefully… “I don't want to be known as the guy who debates Ron, I'd rather be known as the guy who loves Ron.”… Craig… RJ has also been known to bend a few men over…

    … oh yeah Craig one other thing… watch your back because those “HRID” Holy Rollers in Denial will come after you once they see this.

    September 7, 2010 at 4:40 pm |
  3. Sixoh

    Yeah, sorry Mario, but that's a pet peeve of mine worthy of beating someone over the head. It's Too. TOO! Not "To"

    September 7, 2010 at 4:38 pm |
  4. Jacques C

    Unlike your name sake... I do not think the ashes surrounding you will rise with you!!! But then again?

    Are you so worked up that you have to yell? (caps) or do you need glasses?

    September 7, 2010 at 4:37 pm |
  5. Naja

    Jesus loves everyone. Enough said.

    September 7, 2010 at 4:34 pm |
    • RazMor

      .
      .
      Not ALL:
      .
      .
      John 8:44
      YE ARE OF YOUR FATHER THE DEVIL, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.
      .
      .

      September 7, 2010 at 4:37 pm |
    • RazMor

      .
      .
      Jesus said:
      .
      .
      Matthew 7:21
      NOT EVERY ONE that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.
      .
      .

      September 7, 2010 at 4:40 pm |
  6. rufus

    Ron could teach this pastor a little something about the 3 in 1 and 1 in 3.

    September 7, 2010 at 4:34 pm |
  7. CitizenJP

    How we react to other people has nothing to do with those people but has everything to do with our mental state. In this story, Craig's mental state is not bothered by being with a porn star. Craig seems to be situated rock solid within him with his Christian beliefs and practices. In fact I bet Craig even does not see Ron as a porn star but he sees God within Ron with the cloak of a porn star. Craig displays true understanding. We need more of that in this world of diversity from Unity.
    A Hindu American.

    September 7, 2010 at 4:30 pm |
  8. Mike

    Craig Gross may think he's setting an example of Christian tolerance, but he really comes across as condescending. "Jesus dined with tax collectors and befriended prostitutes..." Way to compare yourself to Jesus, Craig, and to imply without coming right out and saying that in your worldview, Ron is scum. A little more humility might have been refreshing.

    September 7, 2010 at 4:29 pm |
  9. Jacques C

    What is there to say?

    The points made:
    – Religion is intolerant of debate by nature
    – Jesus did not mind criminals or sinners

    All true

    One more thing thought...
    Even at the last moment of our last breath we can be saved (see the crucifixion)

    September 7, 2010 at 4:28 pm |
    • Dave

      No such thing as being "saved"....that is a man created story and concept. It has nothing to do with God. It is a story created from the time period and culture...from that era...........No I'm not an atheist just someone who is educated about the origins of Christianity and the many corrupted hands, and forgers who created the Bible.

      September 7, 2010 at 5:01 pm |
    • Jacques C

      *No such thing as being "saved"....that is a man created story and concept.*
      – See leap of faith w/o proof

      *It is a story created from the time period and culture...from that era.*
      – If you take the time to read the 'small' details of the bible you will find funny stuff about eating habit and personal hygiene. You have a manual on how to survive in a insalubrious era -that you mention-.
      Wash your hand... prevents the viral contamination hand/mouth.
      Take your shoes off... prevents bringing in animal waste into the house
      Do not eat pork... prevents getting sick (and dying from eating poorly cooked meat)

      – If one tries to read a bit more and place it in context there is a definitive guidance in there. Divine or not? Only you can decide, after all the greeks did deduce the existence of the atom just by observation.

      It has nothing to do with God.
      – It has everything to do with god, see leap of faith...

      *No I'm not an atheist just someone who is educated about the origins of Christianity and the many corrupted hands, and forgers who created the Bible.*
      – Use any word you like. Being educated is good. Being blinded by it is less so. Still, I do agree that most of the bible (and other 'holy' texts) is usually a poor interpretation of the original texts when not outright exaggerations.
      – It is not enough to call out fraud. One has to prove it and I do not think you can, same as I cannot. In some instances there are 'lapses' like in the book of job. Job is not a jew yet he was a 'great man of god'. According to the rest of the bible god was only protecting 'his people'. So why did he protect job? Were does the mention of giants and monsters come from in the genesis? How about 'other gods'?
      – I have my own 'educated' doubts. But I also have faith, for no reason I can explain. I also recognize that I am not able to prove anything in order to convince anyone. There is no need for that anyway as beliefs are personal and do not entail arguing blue in the face in sterile conversations. There fundamental truths that everyone knows and cannot argue for or against, they just 'are'.
      – Why the defensive tone of not being an 'atheist'? Whatever you are is your choice, lets leave it at that.

      September 7, 2010 at 6:30 pm |
    • Jon

      We (all) were saved when Christ died on the cross for us, and said "it is finished".

      He didn't say, "It is finished,except for the part where people STILL need to recieve me as their personal Lord and Savior." The disciples didn't go about and say," When didst thou ask Jesus to come into thine heart."

      All sarcasm aside, what did the apostles preach? The Good News-Christ is Risen and we are forgiven! That whole saved (decision theology) bit was a glitch in American church history that began around the time of the Methodists, but with people being more bible-literate these days, I predict this "decision theology", made popular by Billy Graham is soon to die out.

      October 11, 2010 at 1:03 am |
  10. Consultofactus

    Perhaps I missed this in the other posts but I was taught that "sin is sin" and that "all have fallen short of the Glory". There is no grading of sin that assigns "badness" – sins of the flesh are sin just as are sins of property (theft, etc) just as sins of deceit, etc, etc. If you are Christian and you find yourself thinking that someone's else's sin is "worse" than yours simply because it appears in an adult video, you may want to rethink that viewpoint.

    September 7, 2010 at 4:27 pm |
    • Dave

      There is no such thing as "sins of the flesh".....how ridiculous and childish. Grow up and educate yourself. Sex is play and recreation for adults as well can be used in monogmous relationships. Christianity and (islam) has taken sex, something natural and beautiful and made it twisted and warped....and assigned many rules regarding it's use. Ridiculous. The Creator made no such rules. Christianity and the Bible are man created fiction. Educate yourselfs.

      September 7, 2010 at 4:50 pm |
  11. John

    Great stuff; more Christians need to be like Mr. Gross. I've heard non-Christians say: "I love Christ, but I hate his Christians (meaning when they are judgmental and filled with hate)." Mr. Gross is a Christ-like Christian.

    September 7, 2010 at 4:25 pm |
    • RazMor

      .
      John
      .
      .
      Amos 5:15
      "Be haters of evil and lovers of good", and let right be done in the public place: it may be that the Lord, the God of armies, will have mercy on the rest of Joseph.
      .
      .

      September 7, 2010 at 4:32 pm |
  12. RazMor

    .
    .
    Matthew 12:36
    But I say unto you, That every idle WORD that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of JUDGMENT.
    .
    .

    September 7, 2010 at 4:24 pm |
  13. doublea1971

    I think that Craig is DEAD ON in his approach with Ron. Ron is actually not the "demon" that people make him out to be. In fact, some might be shocked to know that Ron Jeremy was the person who was the impetus for Tammy Faye being reconciled to the woman who broke Tammy Faye and Jim Baker's marriage apart – Jessica Hahn. Ron had said in his 2007 book that if anyone ever took the Bible out of Tammy Faye's hands that he would personally be very ticked. Ron Jeremy's heart is in the right place. It's other parts of his anatomy that aren't. I'm personally glad that there are men like Craig Gross, who can tell the difference between "casting pearls before swine" and "spending time with sinners".

    September 7, 2010 at 4:15 pm |
  14. clcedar

    I have followed Ron for many years, on video, on TV, interviews........ I have been able to see the other side of the man beside the role he plays on film. He's just a regular guy with a an unconventional job he's proud of. He does'nt claim to be anything else. Like the pastor Craig, he has also been close friends
    with the late Tammy Faye Baker, who also being "slightly unconventional", a dedicated follow of Christ. Like Craig, she went beyond his lifestyle to find a genuine, compasionate, regular guy next door. Without looking at either "porn' or "christianity" it is just plain, old fashioned friendship that makes this seem important in a world where hatred gets much more attention.

    September 7, 2010 at 4:12 pm |
  15. Dave

    There is nothing wrong or immoral or wrong about porn. It is art and beautiful....some porn is better than others in quality....but thank God for good porn. God is not a prude, sex is natural and beautiful, whether married or not, mulitiple partners or not.....while the Bible and Christianity is man created fiction and can be harmful to young vulnerable minds. People should be kept away from Christianity not Porn.

    September 7, 2010 at 4:12 pm |
  16. Reality check

    So these 2 guys are friends, so what. The only reason this is a story is because of the rarity of Christian love & tolerance towards people with whom they disagree.

    September 7, 2010 at 4:11 pm |
  17. Al Sharpton

    Did you mean believe ?

    September 7, 2010 at 4:08 pm |
  18. RazMor

    .
    .
    Psalms 53:1
    1 To the chief Musician upon Mahalath, Maschil, A Psalm of David. The FOOL hath said in his heart, There is NO God. Corrupt are they, and have done abominable iniquity: there is none that doeth good.
    .
    .

    September 7, 2010 at 4:08 pm |
    • lazer007

      your right so the hole world is in some deep bad becuse i see no church doing as jesus told them to do.....go OUT IN TO THE WORLD and teach the gosp..and so on..take NOTHING with you!. and so on..HUMMM..looksm like thay all could do some work..i cant i'm in a wheelcaire so that counts me out NEXT!!!!.

      September 7, 2010 at 4:52 pm |
    • CatholicMom

      lazer007,
      A wheelchair shouldn't keep you from showing someone Jesus by the way you live....

      September 8, 2010 at 12:01 am |
  19. Doc Vestibule

    @Robert:
    Christianity, be definition, is to live ones life in the image of Christ. Jesus Christ's character was about acceptance and forgiveness. He strove to lead by example, instilling mildness and peace amongst those he encountered.
    Those who condemn this and that from their fiery pulpits are not true Christians, though they sure seem to outnumber the other sort – especially in America.
    But that's just my opinion as a Canadian atheist, so what do I know?

    September 7, 2010 at 4:05 pm |
  20. Saint Ringo

    I know a couple that won't dine (break bread) with others, if they are not saved. I always wonder, who told this couple that they were saved.?

    September 7, 2010 at 4:04 pm |
    • CatholicMom

      It could only be by a personal revelation given by God because He is the only One who can judge souls.

      September 7, 2010 at 11:57 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.