John Jalsevac

‘Jesus loves pornstars’: XXXChurch making waves with offbeat anti-porn outreach

John Jalsevac
John Jalsevac
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August 30, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – A young man sits at home, alone, absentmindedly surfing the internet. He’s had a stressful day at work and doesn't have anything in particular to do with his evening. He’s tired, he’s bored. He decides to look for porn.

It’s a scenario that plays itself out tens of thousands of times a day. Except that on this day, the ending is different. 

He heads to Google, and types “XXX.” The search engine returns the expected and sought-for list of porn sites. But in the midst of the search results appears an unusual link title - a shocking juxtaposition of the sacred and the profane - and out of curiosity, he clicks on it. 

And instead of the porn he was hoping to find, he has found the help he needs. He has found XXXChurch - an oasis of sexual sanity in the midst of the pornographic desert that is the Internet.

XXXChurch playfully boasts that it is the “#1 Christian porn site on the internet.” (“Mostly because there isn’t a second one,” quips Craig Gross, 37, one of the co-founders of XXXChurch.)

The unusual Internet-based “church” was founded in January 2002 by Gross and his fellow Californian youth pastor Mike Foster. “I saw just such a need amongst young people when it came to the issue of pornography,” Gross told LifeSiteNews.com in a recent interview. The goal, he says, was simply “to create a safe place online where people could get help, they could feel like they’re not alone.” 

The website offers everything from free internet accountability technology (X3Watch), to thousands of testimonies and confessions from current and former porn users, to courses designed to help men and women quit porn or strengthen their marriages. 

And it has proved wildly popular. So far, more than a million people have downloaded X3Watch, which enables users to send periodic reports of their Internet surfing habits to an accountability partner, while the website welcome tens of thousands of visitors a month, a large number of whom stumble on XXXChurch while searching for porn.

“When I started this 11 years ago, I had no idea it would grow to this size,” Gross says. “Originally it was just for young people, but as we got into it we realized that more and more people, men, women, young and old were dealing with this.” 

“Personally I don’t see a bigger issue facing families and marriages today than pornography.”  

'Jesus Loves Porn Stars'

Part of the success of XXXChurch can be attributed to the widespread publicity it has received thanks to its self-consciously unconventional approach to fighting porn. In fact, perhaps no word sums up XXXChurch better than “edgy.” 

From the aesthetic of its website, videos and pamphlets, to its slogans and its outreach tactics, XXXChurch has consistently pushed the envelope, blurring the line between pop culture and Christian ministry. Gross himself has for years adopted a personal style and wardrobe more akin to an “emo” rockstar - complete with black ear studs, black clothes, and jet black hair swept carelessly to one side - than a Christian pastor (although, judging by recent videos and photos, he has tempered his style with age). 

But perhaps nothing has stoked more controversy than XXXChurch’s decision to print Bibles emblazoned with the slogan “Jesus loves porn stars” and distribute them several times a year at booths at some of the largest porn conventions in the country.

This part of its outreach has earned XXXChurch an unwelcome form of hate mail: that from fellow Christians, who have accused the group of twisting Jesus’ message, or of even being in bed with the porn industry.

"XXX church you people are wicked and God will destroy you!  repent!  XXX church is evil," reads one such example. Gross laughs off these e-mails, and posts them for entertainment value on his website along with the hatemail he receives from porn aficionados and other anti-Christians. 

But the group has also attracted the more balanced critiques of reputable church leaders, who, while enthusiastic about XXXChurch’s goals, have questioned the prudence of their tactics. In fact, The American Bible Society turned down XXXChurch's contract to print the controversial Bibles, writing that the wording "was misleading and inappropriate," forcing Gross to search elsewhere for a publisher.

Another Christian leader who has criticized XXXChurch's approach is no less than Albert Mohler, the president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.   

"I have no doubt that Jesus loves porn stars, and the Bible is perfectly clear in its grace-filled message that Christ came to save sinners,” Mohler wrote in a blog post on his website after news of XXXChurch's unusual ministry first hit the mainstream media. "Jesus ate with notorious sinners and engaged in conversation with them.

"Yet, the presence of a Christian ministry within the confines of the Erotica Expo is a step beyond the example of Jesus, I would argue. There is a difference between talking to a prostitute about the Gospel and entering a brothel - much less buying a booth." 

While saying that he doesn't "want to at all question the motivation of the guys behind this," he adds, "I do think that the packaging and strategy and tactical thinking behind this can be pretty problematic."

"What about a special edition of the new Testament, or in this case a paraphrase of the New Testament that would have on the cover, 'Jesus loves concentration camp guards' or 'Jesus loves pedophiles,' or 'Jesus loves gossips, or liars or tax cheats?'  The question is how can we accomplish that task of loving the sinners without associating with the sin?"

But Gross says he ultimately has little patience for those who question XXXChurch’s outreach without having seen it in action, or witnessing its fruits. 

“Most of the critics have never gone, have never known anyone in the industry,” he says. “For me to tell somebody you can’t do something, and you don’t know anything about that, I would just…I’m not going to listen to it. I’m going to listen to people who saw what we’re doing.” 

And for Gross, whether you agree or not, what they’re doing is quite simple: following Jesus’ example of reaching out to the outcasts, the marginalized, and sinners, and telling them the truth – that Jesus loves them. 

To give love, not to rescue

But here again, it becomes apparent why some Christian leaders are uncomfortable with XXXChurch’s message. For a man who has dedicated his life to fighting porn, Gross seem strangely reticent to affirm that the reason his group goes to porn conventions is to rescue men and women from the porn industry.

“I don’t think we’re there to get them out. I don’t honestly want to say that we have an agenda,” he says. “It’s like, ‘I’m here as your friend to save you.’” This, he suggests, is a classic case of putting the cart before the horse. 

“I would say our goal is – whether it’s people who make the films, or people that are in the films – let them know that Jesus loves you. I feel like those other things work themselves out after a response to that message is given." 

If this seems like a naive, or excessively soft, approach, there are plenty of critics of XXXChurch who agree. But it’s also hard to argue with the results.

Take, for instance, the case of Brittni, who was listed as one of the 12 “hottest” porn stars in the world by Maxim magazine in 2010. Last November, thanks to the influence of XXXChurch, she shot her last porn film, and has since joined forces with the anti-porn organization, reaching out to her former colleagues.

Yet, while Brittni only left the industry seven months ago, she traces her conversion to Christianity to long before that, during a brief hiatus from shooting porn. In the intervening years, she continued to shoot porn, while preaching Christianity to fellow porn stars on film sets, or during appearances on the raunchy Howard Stern show. 

It was an odd marriage that was doomed to fail in the long run: either Christ or porn had to go. But Gross is adamantly opposed to the idea that simply because Brittni continued to shoot porn, that she hadn’t actually encountered Christ. 

“For me to say you can’t have a relationship with Jesus if you’re still in porn, I’m not gonna go there,” he says. “As soon as someone makes a decision at church, you think their lifestyle is cleaned up as soon as they step in the car? They’ve got a lot of baggage still, stuff that they’ve got to now figure out. I’ve seen Jesus change people’s lives, sometimes overnight, other times it’s a long process." 

“To me it’s a difference of opinion," he adds. "I’m not going to start with, ‘Get out of the porn industry.’ You start with love. I mean Jesus spent time with people, he loved people, he invested in people. He went to where they where.” 

In the end, Gross argues, it comes down to a failure on the part of Christians to believe that the message of Christ’s love is enough, a lack of faith that is often accompanied a prideful belief that it is within our power to change other people. “I feel like it’s a trust issue with the Lord,” he says. “Like we don’t trust that God is who He says He is enough to change people’s lives. We think that we’re supposed to be the ones that have to control all that?"

Porn superstar Ron Jeremy and Craig Gross – BFF

In no case is the complexity involved in an outreach to the porn industry more evident than in Gross’ long-time personal friendship with porn superstar Ron Jeremy – arguably the most enduringly popular porn actor in the world. 

Gross met Jeremy some six years ago, when the two men were asked to debate each other at Boston College. “I remember saying to my wife when I left that day, I hope [me and Ron] get to have dinner later,” he recalls. “I didn’t realize how easy that would be." 

“I asked Ron afterwards, ‘Do you want to go to dinner?’ He said, ‘Are you buying?’ And I said, ‘Yeah.’” 

Since then, Jeremy and Gross have traveled all across the United States and the world, debating porn at countless venues before tens of thousands of listeners. And in the process they’ve struck up a personal friendship that extends far beyond their porn-debating schtick – earning the pair the nickname of “the odd couple.” So close have they become that earlier this year, when doctors discovered a life-threatening aneurysm near Jeremy’s heart, Gross was the first person at the porn star’s hospital room, at Jeremy’s personal request.

Jeremy recalled that conversation during a recent interview with ABC. “This is the exact conversation," he remembered. "‘Craig are you free for a couple hours?’ He goes, ‘Yeah.’ ‘Are you still close to God?’ He goes, ‘Last time I checked.’ ‘Well, I’d like you and Him to come down to Cedars-Sinai Hospital.’” 

While Jeremy has spoken of being a "changed man" since his near-death experience, he appears to still be involved in the porn industry. Gross says he gets asked all the time when Jeremy will leave porn. But he says, that’s not up to him. His job, he says, is simply to make sure that Jeremy knows who Jesus is. “Ron is a guy that has a lot of questions. I don’t think it’s by accident that we’ve become great friends,” he says. 

In the meantime, Gross’ friendship with Jeremy has enabled him to reach far more people with his message than might otherwise have been possible. “I can’t go to New York University and draw 2000 kids,” he says. “If somebody brought me in to speak they’d get maybe a couple hundred kids. You bring Ron, you get a couple thousand.” 

How to quit porn

But there is a downside to all the publicity surrounding XXXChurch’s porn convention outreach, and Gross’ famous friendship with Jeremy. If you didn’t know better, you might think that all XXXChurch staffers ever do is hang out at porn conventions or with porn superstars. And if that's an approach you disagree with, you might write off their work completely.

But in reality, XXXChurch spends a handful of weekends per year at porn shows. The rest of the time is spent attending to the core of XXXChurch’s work: helping everyday men and women navigate the treacherous waters of a porn-on-demand culture. 

In the 11 years since Gross founded XXXChurch, much has changed. Porn has become more ubiquitous than ever before, while Gross himself has become a father. Now, he says, “I’m not worried about your kids, I’m worried about my kids.” 

Much of Gross’ time is spent traveling around to churches, raising the alarm about pornography as the elephant in the living room, and giving congregations the tools they need to respond to it. The problem with porn, he tells his hearers, is that it’s a “cheap substitute” for something that was “designed to be so great,” to bring two people together. “I think it’s a far cry from sex as it’s created to be.” 

For those who have learned this lesson the hard way, and want to quit, the first thing Gross tells them is, “I don’t think that you’re going to do it on your own.” 

“It’s a very private thing, most of the time,” he explains. “But if it remains something that you’re trying to battle just by yourself, I don’t think you’re going to have success. The first thing is that you’ve got to be open, honest with somebody. Maybe not the whole world. With somebody that you can say, ‘Hey I need your help.’"

“There’s shame. I get it. I get all the reasons not to" open up, he said. "But man, I’ve never man anybody who’s gotten over this issue by himself. I don’t think you’re going to have success.” 

That’s where XXXChurch’s accountability software comes into play. Download the software. Install it on your computer. And have regular internet surfing reports sent to a trusted accountability partner. 

But the second thing necessary, says Gross, is hard work and sacrifice. And this is the thing that a lot of people are unprepared for. “This could be the fight of your life,” Gross says. “It probably will be.” 

While Gross advocates "patience" in the fight to overcome porn, to those who protest that they have tried to quit and failed, he doesn't mince words. “I’m not calling you lazy. But, ‘Oh, I’ve tried this, it didn’t help.’ Well, did you really? I think I could tell in five minutes. Have you really put in the work? Do you really want to change your ways? Do you really want this? "

“I think a lot of people are like, ‘Oh, I prayed, and it didn’t work.’" he said. "Have you made any sacrifices? Have you changed your patterns? Have you gotten rid of the iPhone and downgraded? Have you made any sort of sacrifices or changes in your behavior so that you don’t go back to this? Who’s on your list that has access to your e-mails?" 

“There’s a lot of people saying, ‘Oh, I tried.’ I just question, have they really put in the work?”

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Kim Davis refusing to issue marriage license to same-sex couple Frame from Times video
Mass Resistance

Kim Davis jailing only beginning of what is in store for America as revealed in June 27 “gay” magazine

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September 4, 2015 (Mass Resistance) --The judge told her that she’ll stay in jail until she’s willing to change her mind -- and go against her conscience and faith. He said that he’d review the situation in a week. The judge said that he jailed her because fining her  “would not bring about the desired result of compliance”.

There are approximately 125 county officials throughout Kentucky who can issue “gay marriage” licenses. But the judge was adamant that every county official must be forced to do it and that religious freedom cannot be allowed, despite the First Amendment.  “The idea of natural law superseding this court’s authority would be a dangerous precedent indeed,” he said.

See video of Kim Davis, turning away very angry same-sex couple demanding a marriage license.

In 2004, 75% of Kentucky voters passed a State Constitutional Amendment restricting marriage to one man and one woman. On Thursday, Sept. 3, County Clerk Kim Davis was sent to jail by U.S. District Judge David Bunning because she refuses to issue “gay marriage” licenses, a decision which she says is rooted in her strong Christian faith.
 

The post-“gay marriage” revolution

Most pro-family people didn’t see the chilling article that appeared in The Nation, a major left-wing magazine, the day before the U.S. Supreme Court “gay marriage” ruling came out. The article outlines where the LGBT movement is going after “gay marriage.”

The Nation article, “What’s Next for the LGBT Movement?”, quotes four high-profile LGBT activists who reveal that “gay marriage” was never their final goal. The LGBT movement will not be stopping to rest, they say. Their plan is to delegitimize and crush all opposition to their agenda everywhere in America – particularly in the churches -- no matter how small.

Some of the things the article outlines:

  • “Dis-establish marriage.”  “Gay marriage” was simply a stepping stone. Their actual goal is that there be no formal marriage rules at all. This means group marriages are next, then incestuous marriages, and later even marriages to minors. It would simply be up to the people directly involved to decide.
  • Pass strong LGBT “non-discrimination” laws across the US. These are the laws that force bakers to bake “gay marriage” cakes or face huge punishments. Such laws would also force schools to include LGBT indoctrination. Most states still do not have the onerous laws the LGBT movement demands. The activists refer to those states (mostly in the South and Midwest) as “zones without rights” in their propaganda.
  • Ban all “religious liberty” laws. They consider religious liberty to be a dangerous ploy to “undermine all civil rights laws” that must be stopped at all costs. All people must be forced to follow the LGBT agenda, with no exceptions.
  • Demonize pro-family conservatives and silence all dissent. They plan to direct “massive amounts of funds” to “expose and defeat the right wing” across America.
  • Push a radical political agenda. They plan to leverage their power to support Marxist economic policies, the right to “early term abortion,” and similar policies.


Starting to happen

Last month the Denver City Council moved to deny the Chick-fil-A restaurant chain permission to do business at the Denver Airport because the company’s president said he does not agree with “gay marriage.” One Council member labeled the president’s pro-marriage beliefs “discriminatory political rhetoric,” and must not be allowed to make profits from the city’s airport. (Chick-fil-A restaurants have never been accused of actually discriminating against anyone.)

The national homosexual group Human Rights Campaign is already raising millions of dollars to fight religious freedom laws around the country.

And of course, there’s the upswing of left-wing hate and demonization of religious people. The day after Kim Davis was jailed, the Boston Globe prominently published an op-ed article titled “Kim Davis follows the footsteps of George Wallace” which states, among other things, that “Davis is just the latest in a long, infernal line of fanatics to contort their so-called faith into an excuse for hatred and division.” The Left’s hatred of religious people is visceral, and now it’s coming to the forefront.
 

Lots of hypocrisy

The jailing of Kim Davis by Judge Bunning, like most of the Left’s actions, has more than a whiff of hypocrisy. When San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom began illegally ordering county clerks to issue “gay marriage” licenses in 2004, or in 2009 when California clerks (and the Governor) ignored the Prop 8 ruling against issuing “gay marriage” licenses, no judge intervened at all. 
 

Cowards and compromisers

It pains us to say it, but for decades the pro-family movement has been crippled from gaining ground by cowards and compromisers, from top to bottom. Don’t get us started on what led to the disastrous the Supreme Court “gay marriage” ruling.  And it continues with the Kim Davis issue.

While Kim Davis sits in jail, five of her six deputy clerks shamelessly have agreed to abide by the judge’s wishes and started issuing “gay marriage” licenses. (The one holdout is her son.) According to news reports, starting the very next day they were issuing them quite cheerfully, even shaking the hands of the newly “married” homosexual couples.

A disturbing number of pro-family and church leaders across the country have sided with the Federal Judge, saying that Kim Davis should go to jail for “not following the law.”  (Actually there is no “law” on the books – it is only a court ruling. Nor could the judge cite such a law.) 

Even the National Review has published an article saying “[R]eligious-liberty protections cannot act as a bar to gay couples: If the law permits a U.S. citizen to get a license, there must be a way for the gay couple to access it, with their dignity intact."
Wonderful. What a lame movement we're in!
 

What can good people do?

We can certainly see what’s coming up. It’s a hardcore take-no-prisoners approach. We must react accordingly. What most of our movement has tried hasn’t worked and isn’t going to work.

MassResistance believes that their whole program must be confronted. Using what resources we have, we believe in taking the offensive. This means challenging that movement everywhere we can. First and foremost means not holding back on telling the unabashed truth, no matter what the consequences. (For example, most conservatives are squeamish about talking about the well-documented medical and psychological destructiveness of homosexual behavior.)

The LGBT movement wins when we become afraid to confront them. 

This article was originally published on the website of Mass Resistance and is re-published with permission.

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Obama and Hillary support Christian clerk’s arrest over gay ‘marriage’

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By Ben Johnson

ROWAN COUNTY, KY, September 4, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) -- The front runner for the Democratic presidential nomination believes that Kim Davis deserved to be jailed.

Shortly following Kim Davis' arrest on Thursday afternoon, Hillary Clinton retweeted a story about Davis' arrest for refusing to issue marriage licenses to homosexual couples, saying all elected officials "should be held to their duty to uphold the law - end of story."

The White House seconded that assessment. The punishment - jail time, rather than a fine - was "appropriate," White House spokesman Josh Earnest said during his daily press briefing on Thursday.

The Obama administration spokesperson went on to say that "the principle of the rule of law is central to our democracy."

Calls to imprison Christians who refuse to participate in same-sex "marriage" have intensified on the Left since the late June Supreme Court decision that imposed same-sex "marriage" on the nation.

As Davis was taken out of the federal court room to her jail cell, gay activists yelled, "Love won! Love won!"

Shortly after her arrest, opinion writer E.J. Montini wrote that Davis "was found in contempt of court and sent to jail. Good."

Their position could hardly contrast more sharply with those of some Republican presidential contenders.

Mike Huckabee is holding a #ImWithKim rally in Kentucky on Tuesday to support Davis, who remains in jail today.

Sen. Ted Cruz has said the arrest - which was ordered by a Republican-appointed federal judge - constituted "judicial tyranny."

Not all Republicans agree, though. Chris Christie said that he would demand that clerks participate in the public recognition of same-sex "marriage" regardless of their religious convictions. Lindsey Graham and Carly Fiorina have had similar sentiments.

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Ted Cruz: Kim Davis’ arrest is ‘tyranny’ intended to drive Christians from office

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By Ben Johnson

ROWAN COUNTY, KY, September 4, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) - The arrest of Kim Davis has sent shock waves throughout the nation - and a clear message: Christians have no place in the public square, according to Sen. Ted Cruz.

When the deeply religious clerk was hauled off to jail Thursday afternoon, "judicial lawlessness crossed into judicial tyranny," Cruz said.

Same-sex "marriage" was imposed on the nation by a 5-4 Supreme Court judgment authored by Justice Anthony Kennedy. The arrest of Kim Davis on "contempt of court" charges was ordered by U.S. District Court Judge David Bunning, a George W. Bush appointment who is the son of former moderate Republican senator and baseball great Jim Bunning of Kentucky.

"Those who are persecuting Kim Davis believe that Christians should not serve in public office," Cruz said.

His analysis is shared by former Sen. Rick Santorum. He warned, "More and more people of faith will face the penalties Ms. Davis is now encountering if we do not make the necessary accommodations so people can not just worship but live out their faith in their lives."

Santorum called for passing the First Amendment Defense Act to prevent scenes of clerks being arrested, florists being fined, and bakers being forced out of business.

"This is wrong. This is not America," said Cruz, who recently hosted a Rally for Religious Liberty that featured many of those whose businesses have suffered for following their faith on the issue of sexuality. "I stand with Kim Davis. Unequivocally."

"I stand with every American that the Obama administration is trying to force to choose between honoring his or her faith or complying with a lawless court opinion," Cruz said. “I call upon every believer, every Constitutionalist, every lover of liberty to stand with Kim Davis."

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee will literally do that, as he hosts an #ImWithKim rally in Kentucky on Tuesday to support Davis.

Cruz joins other Republican presidential candidates who support the Kentucky Christian clerk.

"I think it's absurd to put someone in jail for exercising their religious liberty," Sen. Paul, R-KY, told CNN on Thursday afternoon. "I think it's a real mistake to be doing this."

Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida agreed, “There should be a way to protect the religious freedom and conscience rights of individuals working in the office.”

However, other candidates disagreed. Chris Christie said on Fox News Sunday that laws should be enforced against Christians who decline to participate in gay "marriages."

Sen. Lindsey Graham and Carly Fiorina similarly agree Davis should have issued the marriage licenses, regardless of her faith.

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton tweeted that laws should be enforced, as she shared a story of Davis' arrest on Twitter.

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