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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. mdfaraone

    This is one of the dumbest , most waste of time articles I have ever read. CNN is becoming a complete rag with ZERO journalistic integrity anymore. All their articles read as if they were written by a bunch of 20 something "hipsters".

    September 7, 2010 at 5:23 pm |
    • Lynette

      Look at the URL. You see where it says 'blog'? Look at the header. You see where it says 'blog'? This isn't an article. It's an opinion piece posted in a blog that resides on the larger internet space of cnn.com. Complaining that it lacks journalistic integrity is like complaining that the ads lack journalistic integrity.

      September 8, 2010 at 2:59 pm |
  2. Satrio

    We can't say which one's way is wrong and another one's way is right or otherwise and against the (what we think is wrong)
    Wisely thinking, the entire universe grant its harmony because of the existence of binary opposition.
    We can say something is bright because of the darkness. Yin-yang. . .
    That's all about choices. .

    So how do you think:
    why God creates hell if He only wants all human kind enters heaven?
    that's all about choice. We are granted such clear choices and no one forces us including Him.
    Ron has made his decision that he thought is his way. Don't ever think that God never reminds him. Every hour every minute the 'light' always come to us and never late, like a morning sunlight through our window. It never comes late. the only problem is: how clean is your window

    Iii]:-)

    September 7, 2010 at 5:16 pm |
    • RazMor

      .
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      Yes we can tell which is wrong:
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      Romans 7:12
      Wherefore the LAW is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good.
      .
      .

      September 7, 2010 at 5:19 pm |
    • RazMor

      .
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      God gave your choice, it is really up to you who you pick.
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      Romans 12:9
      Let love be without dissimulation. ABHOR that which is evil; cleave to that which is good.
      .
      .

      September 7, 2010 at 5:21 pm |
  3. JavierTHEcolombian

    Dude if more people in the church were like you, there might have been a possibility for me to respect religion as whole. Respect to you, your family for stickin with the tour, Ron for bein able to still do what he does, and anyone else who walks out of their comfort zone to sample what the other side has. Keep it real and hopefully I can make it to one of these debates someday. New Jersey!

    September 7, 2010 at 5:16 pm |
  4. lance corporal

    I like porn, so do christians!!!! do the math, what percentile of our country identifies as christian? and just how much porn is bought? it is a rocking industry, there is massive amounts of porn being made. . so who is using it?? just the non christians??? I don't think that's even remotely possible, I'd bet it something like %10 of people who identify as christian NEVER view porn and still only %30 who rarely do, I watch porn with my wife, sometimes I make my own porn OF my wife, it's good healthy fun, se x IS healthy, men are especially visually oriented, this is how "god" made us, porn is good! now what kills me is these people who SUPPOSEDLY hate porn are all for violent gory movies, now THAT is porn to me, I won't watch that crap and I don't understand how the one thing is wrong but the other isn't..... to me se x is good, bloody violence is not

    September 7, 2010 at 5:11 pm |
  5. oda155

    RazMor… excuse me but we get it OK… we really do.

    September 7, 2010 at 5:09 pm |
    • RazMor

      .
      .
      Matthew 11:6
      And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me.
      .
      .

      September 7, 2010 at 5:13 pm |
  6. Smith

    I love this. I think it is always a wonderful thing for us to challenge ourselves and our beliefs. It only makes us stronger and we learn about ourselves and the world around us. The world would be so much better off if we would all listen to and try to understand each other. And this minister is doing just what the Bible teaches us to do. To love and accept others. This is a great story! I think that the churches should let them in. Everyone would learn something. I understand their fear and concern, but they should keep in mind that we only fear what we do not understand.

    September 7, 2010 at 5:06 pm |
  7. Chris

    Now about Ron Jeremy – whether he is "right" or "wrong" is ridiculous as per this article as either person's arguments are not even stated – I can assume Ron believes porn and promiscuity is ok.. Hmmm, I guess it would be fun. Some might think that because I have "bashed" the Bible (previously) I would think that Porn is good – and why would that be. I believe porn is like all vices in that Children should not be exposed to it, and adults who use it to extremes should have social programs, and the people around them have social programs to help them. The big problem I have about Porn these days is that children and adolescents are exposed to it too easily and as raising good healthy children who will grow up to adults who do the same it is more important to protect the children than to protect a vice.

    As the definition of present day Bible Belt Baptist's who seem to have "stolen" christianity is to BE RIGHT and FEEL RIGHT – and since you are right you don't need to discuss anything – F-them, we are right. What is wrong with THEM, don't they see the light?????. We have news shows showing muslims having misconceptions of Americans, but we have the same.

    September 7, 2010 at 5:05 pm |
  8. kd

    doesn't sound like a really informative debate from any angle.

    September 7, 2010 at 5:03 pm |
  9. Robin Bush

    I think it is an awesome thing that they bothhave with each other. It seems as though they both have one thing in common and that is their friendship and their love for each other despite the differences that brought them together. I commend both of them of their unique relationship and the hell with the people that dont get it or have issues with it........... God bless both of you and your balls................... to be who you are.................

    September 7, 2010 at 5:02 pm |
  10. RazMor

    .
    .
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    Galatians 5:20-21
    20 Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies (FALSE TEACHING),
    .
    21 Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.
    .
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    If it tell us, there's false teachings, it should be there is one TRUE TEACHING.
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    After all it only ONE BODY, ONE CHURCH WILL BE SAVE. According to Jesuschrist.
    .
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    Find that one!

    September 7, 2010 at 5:02 pm |
  11. dbb

    It doesn't matter who this pastor hangs out with; the last time I checked this was a country of free speech, action and thought (unless you are some self righteous ignorant religious person who thinks "my god is the only god and what I think and say is more important that what you think or say, so you are going to go to hell for not believing what I believe".

    Besides, the god of Abraham only exists for those who believe in it, just like the people who believe in the spaghetti monster or Shiva. What this guy is doing is trying to spark rational, logical and spiritual debates with those who he thinks needs to hear the word of his god. Every one else who says "that is wrong" needs to shut their pie hole and go stick their heads back in the ground.

    September 7, 2010 at 5:02 pm |
  12. khos2007

    Christianity and Porn are both hustles. With both you are either the hustler or getting hustled.

    September 7, 2010 at 4:59 pm |
  13. Mjckwmn

    I think that many of my fellow readers/posters have missed the point. This is a story about two men who are walking different paths, where one is able to find acceptance of himself, if not his deeds and the other is able to practice what he believes by giving that acceptance to one who is in need. I may not be a Christian, but I believe if more people opened their hearts to those who live outside our personal bubbles the world could only, ultimately be a better place. Conversion is a process, and NOTHING happens in a vacuum except that things (ie opportunities) are lost. My great and grand fathers were both ministers. One Mormon, the other Baptist. And THEY taught me that.

    September 7, 2010 at 4:55 pm |
  14. Janet

    ...and the picture's a hoot!

    September 7, 2010 at 4:54 pm |
  15. Dave

    I have no interest any more in religion, and especially Christianity, because of the close mindedness and hypocrisy of many of its preachers. I am quite glad to see that Craig Gross breaks the mold and applaud him for his efforts and outlook.

    September 7, 2010 at 4:54 pm |
  16. JBBW

    You are a good Christian.

    September 7, 2010 at 4:52 pm |
  17. RazMor

    .
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    Jesus said:
    .
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    Matthew 23:33
    You snakes, offspring of snakes, how will you be kept from the punishment of hell?
    .
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    John 14:15
    If ye love me, keep my commandments.
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    Not just faith.

    September 7, 2010 at 4:50 pm |
    • CatholicMom

      RazMor,

      Yes, the devil believes but he refused to do the Father's will. If we believe, are Baptized but do not do the Father's will, are we any different than the devil?

      September 8, 2010 at 12:19 am |
  18. Aikisoul

    Being willing to bring a porn star to your church under the belief that he needs to recover from something, or needs to accept some different point of view to be worthy of respect is stunningly arrogant. There is nothing wrong with Ron Jeremy. He is intelligent,famous, and the best in an industry. He made the best use of the gifts that God has bestowed upon him. So what if that talent is in his pants. There are thousands of men who envy him.
    Sorry folks if your mythological stories are wrong (and they might be) then this life is all we have and you have wasted valuable, precious, irretrievable time trying to be what you believe will give you the promise of eternity. I for one will never drink the Kool Aid!
    I am happy, loving, altruistic, generous, charitable, moral, fulfilled, peaceful, and Godless. Wish I was a porn star!

    September 7, 2010 at 4:48 pm |
  19. Solracts2:38

    I'm amazed at the Love that true believers have for their fellow man. He that lovest not knowest not God for God is LOVE!
    Once the church begin to truely believe in signs and wonders, their will be no trapidation in speaking the truth and loving all all people. Many christian cannot engage with society fringe's because they lack faith. Let's have faith!

    September 7, 2010 at 4:43 pm |
  20. Lou

    Now this is what Christianity is about LOVE and the fellow man even if you don't agree with them. Not this strayed version where they hate everything and everyone.
    Thank you Porn pastor for understanding the true meaning of Jesus message ..... LOVE

    September 7, 2010 at 4:41 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.