Pornography – An ‘Elephant in the Room’ for Christians

CHICAGO, IL (January 26, 2011) – Even though Craig Gross, the founder of XXXchurch.com, was interviewed by the New York Times as well as other major newspapers and radio stations, he could not get a speaking engagement in any church from 2002-2005.

XXXchurch.com is a website devoted to telling the truth about the devastating effects of pornography. Churches did not want to discuss the issue, he says.

Well-known and influential pastor Rob Bell of Mars Hill Church invited Gross to speak. Then Bill Hybels, pastor of Willow Creek Community Church, extended an invitation. And invitations from other churches started coming in.

Gross will speak during next week’s Midwinter Conference breakfast at 8 a.m. on Friday, February 4. The conference is sponsored by the Evangelical Covenant Church.

Since the website began, more than 70 million people have visited and more than 500,000 individuals have used its accountability software. The website venture is now part of Fireproof Ministries, led by Gross.

Although he is speaking at far more churches, many congregations still don’t want to discuss the issue. “It’s the elephant in the room,” Gross says.

Such reluctance is tragic, Gross says, because studies show that a high percentage of church attendees and pastors look at pornography on a regular basis. The numbers range anywhere from 30 percent to 50 percent based on various surveys.

Studies also show that the percentage of Evangelical Christians viewing porn is at least the same as the rest of the population. The reluctance of churches to discuss the issue leads to more secretiveness, Gross adds.

“Most people don’t talk about it until it’s too late and have lost their job or lost their marriage,” Gross says. “I think what most people misunderstand about this is the consequences that are involved. People don’t understand that the images never leave you.”

Gross has debated porn star Ron Jeremy at sites across the country, discussing the effects of pornography on users and especially actors. The two are friends and Jeremy has even stayed at Gross’ house. Just because they are on different sides of the issue doesn’t mean they can’t be friends, Gross says.

Gross and his site have attracted controversy. His church is located on the strip in Las Vegas. His website proclaims itself the “No. 1 Christian Porn Site.” Shirts are sold or handed out that read, “Jesus loves Porn Stars,” available at porn conventions and other venues. The website also promotes “Porn Sunday” observances at churches.

This year’s observance will be February 6, just two days following his Midwinter talk and on the same day as the Super Bowl. It is co-sponsored by XXXchurch.com and the Evangelical Covenant Church congregation Lifechurch.tv.

Congregations around the world will simultaneously broadcast a special service discussing porn and the negative effects it can have. Craig Groeschel, pastor of Lifechurch.tv, will lead the 30-minute video that also will feature several football players, including Dallas Cowboys quarterback Jon Kitna.

Gross says he and others prepare for attending porn conventions the same way people would for any mission trip. “We do a lot of praying.”

Although people wonder how he could attend a convention without being tempted to sin, Gross says, “I’ve probably stumbled more at the checkout line at the market than I do at a porn convention.”

Gross says the conventions and other shows where he and ministry teams visit are important mission fields. “People at the church want to write off people in the porn industry. The most success we have had with outreach is when we go where no one else is going. I mean nobody.”

Many participants in the industry – especially women – feel trapped and come from abusive backgrounds, Gross says. XXXchurch.com is seeking to put together a network of churches that want to share God’s grace to members of the porn industry nationally or locally.

“That’s the great commission.”

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