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Jesus loves porn stars, says XXX church

San Mateo County Times, USA
Nov. 2, 2006
Christine Morente, Staff Writer
www.insidebayarea.com

ReligionNewsBlog.com • Friday November 3, 2006

Pastor speaks on the ills of the adult industry

FOSTER CITY — Craig Gross has come a long way from hiding dirty magazines as a teen in his friend’s tomato bushes in Sacramento.

Today, the 30-year-old pastor is fighting the porn industry, which he said victimizes children as young as 10 and as old as 80.

“People want more and more filth,” Gross told 140 people Saturday night at Central Peninsula Church in Foster City. “I want to keep people from going down the porn boulevard. It’s going to lead you to a dead end.”

Ordained by the East Side Christian Church in Fullerton, the Evangelical pastor is co-founder of XXXchurch.com, the self-proclaimed “No. 1 Christian porn site on the Internet” encourages people who are addicted to porn to turn away from it.

At the Saturday night talk attended by kids and adults, Gross cautioned that the porn industry only provides a fantasy and that sometimes people mistake it for reality.

“Porn has sold people a big lie,” he said. “Some people assume this is what sex is supposed to be like. It doesn’t bring people together, it drives them apart.”

Sitting in the crowd, Marie-Anne Poudret of Foster City recalled how hard it was for her to find pornography when she was younger.

“I had to search for porn in romantic novels,” Poudret said.

Today, however, the 36-year-old mother of three said it’s important for parents to be aware of how large the industry is and talk about it with their children.

“(Children) are going to look for it,” she said. “We’re human, we have this sexual craving. Porn is fast food and it satisfies the craving, but it’s not good food.”

With the aid of Gross and others who believe houses of worship are the perfect places to reach people about this sometimes sensitive issue, more and more congregations nationwide are addressing the issues of sex and pornography. They are doing so via educational lectures and programs that discuss how porn is sensationalized and not reality.

Locally, Mid-Peninsula Vineyard Church in San Carlos hosted “Porn Sunday” earlier this week and invited Gross to speak to the congregation.

“Sexuality is just a beautiful gift, and we don’t know how to protect it,” Pastor Charlie Brown said. “Our sexuality is one that is close to our soul. It has a lot to do with our identity, our history, our values, and it touches so many areas of our life.”

By inviting Gross to Porn Sunday, Brown said he hoped the event will be a source of healing for those who have allowed porn into their lives.

“We’re not about shame and guilt,” Brown said.

Rob McIlvoy, area director for Young Life Mid-Peninsula, a Christian youth group invited Gross to speak at Central Peninsula because he recognized how pervasive and powerful pornography can be to adults, kids and even some pastors.

“It is an issue the church should be talking about, that it shouldn’t be shying around, if it wants to be relevant,” said McIlvoy, 44. “I want my faith to be real. I want God to be involved in my everyday situations, the good and the bad.”

Gross, who moved to Grand Rapids, Mich., from Southern California in April, said it took him two and a half years to spread his “message” to congregations nationwide.

He, along with friend and pastor Mike Foster, launched XXXchurch.com four years ago at the Adult Video News expo in Las Vegas. They started XXXchurch because they realized the topic was off-limits in church and they wanted to give people a safe outlet to kick the habit.

At these expos Gross hands out “Jesus Loves Porn Stars,” the New Testament in contemporary language and with a flashy, retro cover.

“Jesus obviously isn’t into porn, but he loves porn stars, just like he loves pastors,” Gross said.

Although erotic art is as old as humanity, pornography came about during the Victorian era. What birthed the adult entertainment industry was the invention of the printing press and photography.

With the Internet, pornography’s tentacles became longer and more aggressive, calling out to people who have e-mail accounts. Gross said porn also is found on MySpace and Facebook and can be downloaded onto iPods and phones.

According to Gross, 76 percent of parents do not know what their kids are doing online and one-third of people who look at porn online are women. He said $13 billion is spent on magazines and movies, while $57 billion is spent worldwide.

Gross said he wasn’t exposed to as much porn when he was growing up.

“I went through college without a computer,” he said. “Now it’s everywhere and kids are finding porn even when they’re not looking for it. It’s even found my mom.”

He is still frustrated that a large number of congregations are unwilling to talk about the effects of pornography.

“The church is slow,” said Gross, the father of two young kids. “XXXchurch is still a reaction to the problem. Porn with church or anything religious, makes people nutty.

“But we know (the Bible) is something that is better than porn.”

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