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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. Marek

    Craig way to go that averages 1.1 x a day for your 12 years!

    September 7, 2010 at 5:57 pm |
  2. neo

    Jesus wasn't a christian or a jew. Jesus was (and still is) God. How can you practice a religion that is centered around being like yourself? that's just silly

    September 7, 2010 at 5:54 pm |
  3. Bill

    Ron spoke at a university that I worked at in the Pacific Northwest back in 2002? he has a masters degree and has worked and lived all around the world. Much to my surprise the venom didn't come from students or even faculty members or the adminstration it came from so called christians. Ron talked about the industry and what drives its' economy and why people get so upset about Porn...yet, these so called christians sent death threats, veil e-mails and cussed out my staff and me and we had to have police secruity for the lecture..it was to say the least an eye opener...his message was not X rated or even PG but these so called christians were filled with hatred and wanted to tear down the university...

    September 7, 2010 at 5:53 pm |
  4. Hiram

    I think Ron should start his own church. A twist on modern day polygamy. Now where did I put those reformed egyptian tablets!

    September 7, 2010 at 5:51 pm |
    • Translation

      There's a church of the Sacred Heart and tons of others built around religious fragments of body parts, so why not the Church of Ron's Unit?

      September 7, 2010 at 6:40 pm |
  5. wr

    Maybe Ron doesn't believe in being a Christian.... because he's JEWISH?

    September 7, 2010 at 5:49 pm |
    • Translation

      Correction: Ron's *parents* were Jewish. Doesn't sound like he is.

      September 7, 2010 at 6:42 pm |
  6. Moses was a murderer

    Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy

    "One day, the young man Moses saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew slave. Moses rushed to his kinsman's defense and killed the Egyptian. Fearing he would be reported and executed, Moses buried the Egyptian in the sand and fled to the land of Midian...."

    great guy, that Moses.

    September 7, 2010 at 5:47 pm |
    • RP

      Saul (Paul) was a murderer too. He killed Christians. God can use anyone, especially those that need forgiveness the most.

      "I tell you, her sins–and they are many–have been forgiven, so she has shown me much love. But a person who is forgiven little shows only little love."

      September 7, 2010 at 5:55 pm |
  7. Dana

    The truth of the matter is that most Christian churches don't want to open up "pandora's box" by inviting a "porn star" to their church service as apart of the center of attention. You do have children that attend church with their parents/gaurdians, and not every parent, or minister wants to be put in the position of having to explain sexuality without getting too explicit.

    However, being a christian myself, I will say that I fully understand and support what minister Gross has been doing, and feel that more churches should be outreaching the community more on this level. Porn is a HUGE problem with a lot of men. And many of them go to church. It's so easily accessed today, and so much more eaiser to get addicted to without much effort. Yes Jesus does love porn stars, as well as the prostitute. But Jesus sees those lifestyles as sinful, and you can not be accepted into heaven living as a prostitute or porn star. However if you are a reformed prostitute or porn star that gives up that lifestyle and completey accept and follow Jesus Christ, then you will inheret the kingdom of heaven as he promised.

    The irony however, is that Ron Jeremy knows that there's a sense of uncertainty within himself that he may be wrong in what he has been doing. And having someone like Minister Gross to show him why porn is wrong is what Jesus would want for everybody.

    September 7, 2010 at 5:46 pm |
  8. RP

    "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another."

    All other commandments are out with the Old Testament and this is the ONE for the New Testament (the new covenant). How did Jesus love us? To death! Literally.

    There is so much anger and hate in many of these posts by "Christians". Just an observation.

    Good for you Craig.

    September 7, 2010 at 5:46 pm |
    • CatholicMom

      Jesus did not come to abolish the OT but to fulfill it.

      September 8, 2010 at 12:33 am |
    • Peter F

      I agree... debates like the ones we find in these blogs often spark anger that can turn into bitterness and destructive comments. Let us instead start loving our brothers and sisters, respecting them, and avoiding unnecessary conflict.

      September 8, 2010 at 12:37 am |
    • Lynette

      CatholicMom wrote: Jesus did not come to abolish the OT but to fulfill it.

      Yes, he did. And he did fulfill it by paying the price for sin that the law required. And by having done that, he freed us from the jurisdiction of the law and moved us to a new country where the law has no jurisdiction. In this new country, we are under grace, not under the law. As an example, I do not have to go covered while outside my home, even though that is the law in many nations, because I am not under the jurisdiction of those laws since I am not in any of those nations. While the OT laws are useful for revealing the character of God, the history of my faith, and the behaviours that are pleasing to God, they do not apply to me. If I choose to keep some of them, it is because I understand them to be beneficial to me and to my relationship with God through Christ, not because I must.

      September 8, 2010 at 3:26 pm |
  9. Jacques C

    Couple of things here...

    This not a 'news story' but a blog.

    *You guys jumped the shark and stopped being of value about 15 years ago.*
    You have your head in the sand and this more dangerous than you think. Religious conviction (not belief) is what creates the dissension both in politics and international relations between countries. The advent and influence of 'religious zealots both in the US and abroad.

    Not to see how the world is being torn apart by religious nuts is rather weird.

    So, yes, a blog like this one is necessary for one main reason: it is not confrontational.

    I do blame the increasing stridency of today's politics to politicians catering to religious groups that have no business in politics.

    September 7, 2010 at 5:45 pm |
  10. Where's the Love?

    As you read these comments it is easy to differentiate the religious from true Christians, 1 Corinthians 13:2 if we do not have love we are nothing! Religious people give Christianity a bad name.

    September 7, 2010 at 5:43 pm |
  11. Mr. M

    I think it is good to see thing form others perspectives.

    September 7, 2010 at 5:41 pm |
  12. Rich

    for those responders screaming, "This is news? How far CNN has fallen!", etc., etc. – no, it is not news. It is the BELIEF BLOG. It clearly states this at the outset. Friggin' have to do too much hand-holding in this world.

    September 7, 2010 at 5:38 pm |
  13. pitung

    It is useless for pastor Craig to spend time with a person like Ron Jeremy since Ron knows exactly that he lead a sinful life, but does not want to change it. It is imposible living in America without knowing Christianity – it is only a matter of
    willing to accept or not. Unless you live in a country where there is no one that spread the gospel, then you are really in trouble – but not for Ron Jeremy. It is dangeous for pastor Craig to mingle with Ron – he himself might fall.

    September 7, 2010 at 5:37 pm |
    • Rich

      you might want to go down to Chinatown. I guarantee there are people there that have never heard of Jesus, and don't really care about him if you did. I sincerely wish I was in a country where there was no one to spread the gospel – precisely because it's a book subject to personal interpretation and no one knows the truth because JC sure didn't provide it.

      September 7, 2010 at 5:40 pm |
    • Lynette

      Christianity is not the same as Christ. A lot of people in America think they know what Christ did or said or stood for. Very few have ever been told the truth. They know what Christians do, but they do not know the good news of Christ. They think it's a religion, a moral code, a social construct, a group of busybodies, a list of holidays. They've missed that true Christianity isn't any of those things– it's a relationship with God through Jesus Christ. A person can live their whole life in America and never learn this simple truth because 'everybody' in America knows it, so Christians make no effort to befriend the non-Christian. That apathy is counter to Christ's teaching and example. Craig is doing exactly what he needs to be doing for and with Ron Jeremy.

      September 8, 2010 at 3:14 pm |
  14. Jimthedo, Phoenix, AZ

    Nothing wrong with this relationship at all....can't we all just be friends?

    September 7, 2010 at 5:31 pm |
  15. Tom

    Jesus LOVES sinners but HATES sin. He actually died for sinners so that people who believe in him and get baptized would be forgiven and receive eternal life. For free. Period.

    September 7, 2010 at 5:31 pm |
  16. Nick

    TammyB
    "@ Kurt Gerhardt...Not meaning to sound mean however, your opinion on this seems to be most "christians" outlook, and is the reason I quit organized religion. Most (not all) church goers I met preached love, tolerance, understanding, etc., but only to others that shared their belief, which, I think is contrary to Jesus' teachings. It should be ALL people that one treats with respect, not just other "christians"."

    Completely agreed.

    I as well as my parents...family....and an increasing number of friends and community our turning away from the church as it's sickening how Christians have a lot to share, but only if you'll nod your head in agreement. Open your minds/hearts more Christians, practice what you preach.

    Ghandi had it right, "I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ."

    September 7, 2010 at 5:30 pm |
    • RazMor

      .
      .
      RESPECT?
      .
      .
      2 Chronicles 19:2
      2 And Jehu the son of Hanani the seer went out to meet him, and said to king Jehoshaphat, Shouldest thou HELP the ungodly, and love them that hate the LORD? therefore is "WRATH" upon thee from before the LORD.
      .
      .

      September 7, 2010 at 5:34 pm |
    • Nick

      RazMor

      Clearly you think they're undeserving, how expected.

      Do you really think your hands are clean of "sin"?
      That your live is of more value?

      No? Then strive to understand and yes respect your fellow man, you show respect you're receive it. Thats how you open hearts and minds to you're message, not by closing doors and spouting verses.

      September 7, 2010 at 5:38 pm |
  17. dfielder

    Craig, to answer your question about hanging out with none Christians, I believe you already know the answer. The answer lies in the examples put forth in the bible: Christ did not minister to Christians.

    When we are children (or converting adults) our faith is weak, and our wit is naive. It is best to protect a young faith with the exclusive presence of mature faiths. But once the faith is mature, it must cease acting like a child and join the world. A faith that is always shielded in the company of other Christians cannot grow and becomes stagnant. Such faith is worse than a dead faith, as it sets an example of stagnation and complacency for other young Christians. Sadly, stagnant faith is a plague upon modern Christendom. There are more faithless Christians than those with faith.

    As a Christian of adult faith, the only way to be sure that your faith is not stagnant, is to challenge it. What better way to challenge a faith than with the company of none Christians? Even better is to bring the light of God through your faith to those that cannot see the light or do not share Christian faith. Be careful though. Take your time before you try to face the devil ... Christ did not face the temptations of the devil until he was very mature. But lets be clear, a truly strong faith can only grow stronger if it eventually faces and challenges the devil himself. How can a Christian face the devil and be challenged if that person never leaves the company of other Christians. It is the fate of the strongest Christians to look the devil in the eye.

    As for the issue of porn ... LOL. Porn and money ... neither is evil. Its the deeds in the hearts and minds of mankind that is the evil. Money, porn (and many other things) are simply vessels of convenience for the sprouting of evil. Men will execute many evil deeds due to the presence of women; but we cannot solve the problem by banishing women. Even Chocolate is evil when it is worshiped. Chocolate is unlikely to make the DEA's list of contraband any time soon.

    September 7, 2010 at 5:29 pm |
  18. JerryCS

    I've had the experience of both lives. I was not paid for sex but shared intimate relationships with well over one hundred women. This promiscuous life style was mostly driven by pain originating from the loss of my 1st marriage. With enough distance and enough time I was able to find a permanent mate. I have never cheated on my wife and this is with many opportunities. I would not trade the single life and 5000 women for my life partner. I by far prefer the married life and compliance with our mutually accepted agreements. Lust and sex with many women in itself is not a serious problem. The problem is the distraction it creates from the many other forms of life's experiences. Ron Jeremy probably lives an exciting life but not all of us have that opportunity. He may never share my experience. I'll finish by saying any man has that inherent drive to populate the whole Earth with his own seed. It is a primitive instinct that is an obsession if allowed to run wild. I am bless to know the difference and be in a great marriage.

    September 7, 2010 at 5:28 pm |
  19. StarMan

    Jesus lovers are inserting themselves into everything.

    September 7, 2010 at 5:26 pm |
    • RazMor

      .
      .
      John 8:47
      He that is of God heareth God's words: ye therefore hear them not, BECAUSE YE ARE NOT OF GOD.
      .
      .

      September 7, 2010 at 5:30 pm |
  20. RazMor

    .
    .
    .
    1 Timothy 2:4
    Who will have ALL MEN TO BE SAVED, AND COME UNTO THE KNOWLEDGE OF THE "TRUTH".
    .
    .
    .

    September 7, 2010 at 5:24 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.