Handing out free Bibles to p°rn stars and their fans at adult film conventions isn’t as hard as it would seem. Pastors Mike Foster and Craig Gross say they typically give away 1,000 copies of the New Testament at the multiday conferences.
Even so, the founders of XXXchurch.com — a Corona-based anti-p°rnography Internet ministry — thought a hip cover could easily triple their distribution.
But the pastors’ brainstorm to put their “Jesus Loves P°rn Stars” brand on covers of the New Testament was rejected by the American Bible Society, the publishing company that XXXChurch.com paid to print 10,000 copies of the Scriptures.
The publisher said that while it applauded the outreach to those who make a living off p°rnography, “the wording is misleading and inappropriate for a New Testament,” according to a letter the pastors received from Barbara Bernstengel, the executive in charge of standards at the nonprofit Bible publishing company.
Read the rest of this LA Times article: A Setback for Anti-P°rn Pastors, April 2, 2006 (registration required).
I’ve known about Mike and Craig’s ministry to the p°rn industry for some time now, and I enthusiastically support what they are doing. I pray for them regularly because it seems to me that they are doing something enormously risky, yet enormously important.
They are taking the message of Jesus to some of the most reviled (and celebrated) people in our culture—the actors, actresses and producers who make the billion-dollar p°rnography industry possible.
They are doing exactly what Jesus did. And they have been criticized for the same reasons—we get squeamish about some people, and some sins.
Soon Levi held a banquet in his home with Jesus as the guest of honor. Many of Levi’s fellow tax collectors and other guests were there. But the Pharisees and their teachers of religious law complained bitterly to Jesus’ disciples, “Why do you eat and drink with such scum?”
Jesus answered them, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor—sick people do. I have come to call sinners to turn from their sins, not to spend my time with those who think they are already good enough.” —Luke 5:29-32, NLT
One of the problems with our Christian sub-culture is our tendancy to stand a safe distance away from sinners and yell at them. Jesus took a very differnent approach—he got to know them, and he challenged their sin in a very sneaky way, through kindness and love.
That’s exactly what Mike and Craig do. They set up shop at the largest p°rn conventions and make personal contact, offering to talk, offering to pray, handing out Bibles and building friendships with people who are certain that God has utterly rejected them because of their profession. That genuine and subversive approach—love—has been God’s most effective instrument of change throughout Christian history, and nothing has changed.
In a related LA Times article a week ago, (Ex-Stripper Spreads Gospel to Those in Sex Industry), Heather Veitch talks about JC’s Girls Girls Girls, a ministry to the women in the sex trades.
Both of these organizations are solidly evangelical and on the level. Granted, their public face is somewhat over the top. They are both trying to be seen and heard in an age of short attention spans. And they are trying to get in the door of an industry that is pretty over the top itself.
The church has focused on the problem of p°rn users. Good. But in the process, we have failed to look for a way to reach the hearts of the p°rn providers. Jesus loves strippers and prostitutes and p°rn stars—not what they do, but who they are. How will they hear that unless someone tells them?
I hadn’t heard about the issue over the Bible, so thank you for discussing this, Charlie. I’ve had the opportunity to work with Mike Foster (he consulted on a creative team) and you’re right – these guys are right in the middle of a very difficult, risky and important ministry. And you are right – they get criticized for exactly the same reasons as Jesus did. For hanging out with “notorious sinners”!