XXX Ministry: In the World or Of the World?

Christianity Today is running an article on a ministry that reaches out to porn stars and porn addicts. The article is “XXXMinistry: Reaching out to the porn industry.”

Craig Gross and Mike Foster (pictured above) launched their ministry in 2002 by attending a pornography trade show in Las Vegas, Nevada. At the event, Gross and Foster promoted the new ministry by dressing one of their spouses like a bunny on the tradeshow floor.

Not surprisingly, their ministry methods have received much criticism from other Christian groups (like the 700 Club).

Gross and Foster’s justification for their methods can be summed up in their quirky philosophy of “incarnational” ministry. In fact, Gross’ new book “is about so deeply feeling the work of Christ that pulled us out of our gutters that we re-enter the gutters in order to call others out as well.”

Here is one area where I am in agreement with the 700 Club. Gross and Foster have indeed stepped over a line. However, we should note that no one discovers where that line is by flighty speculations about “WWJD” (What would Jesus do?). The better question is “what does the Bible say Jesus did and said.”

Jesus is the one who shocked His listeners with the radical idea that it’s not just acts of immorality that offend God, but the thoughts also.

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery’; but I say to you, that everyone who looks on a woman to lust for her has committed adultery with her already in his heart. And if your right eye makes you stumble, tear it out, and throw it from you; for it is better for you that one of the parts of your body perish, than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand makes you stumble, cut it off, and throw it from you; for it is better for you that one of the parts of your body perish, than for your whole body to go into hell” (Matthew 5:27-30).

My question for Gross and Foster would be, “How can one seriously be heeding Jesus’ command to be vigilant against the temptation to lust while at a porn convention?”

The apostle Paul commands us to “put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts” (Romans 13:14). This text simply means that Christians are not only to avoid sin, but also any situation or occasion in which one is prone to fall.

The Great Commission enjoins Christians to reach out to everyone—even porn stars and porn addicts. But it does not encourage us to throw caution to the wind with respect to our own personal holiness. It seems that the “XXXMinistry” has lost sight of this basic truth.

5 Responses to XXX Ministry: In the World or Of the World?

  1. Carla August 16, 2005 at 7:29 am #

    I blogged on this back in April, here: http://emergentno.blogspot.com/2005/04/porn-weekend-commentary.html

    Comments have since been wiped out (not my doing) but my email responses pretty much reflected a general support for this modern ministry. Very few had any issue with it.

  2. kpita August 16, 2005 at 3:08 pm #

    I also recently blogged about this same ministry at: http://colossiansthreesixteen.blogspot.com/2005/08/which-letters-belong-in-church_10.html

    Thanks for your insight.

    Brent

  3. Kris August 17, 2005 at 11:44 am #

    Mr. Burk,
    I make the following comments here with respect and love for my brothers. If I am wrong please out of love show me where I am missing it.
    How do any of us know that these guys would personally have a problem with lust by attending this convention. Maybe they have been around this stuff and it longer effects them compared to the love of Christ. Where someone else it would be a temptation. They very much seem to be doing out of a right motive to seek and save the lost. I make this critique with the following passage in mind. If I am wrong please be all means show me.

    Matthew 11:16-19
    16″But to what shall I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the market places, who call out to the other children,
    17and say, ‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not mourn.’
    18″For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon!’
    19″The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Behold, a gluttonous man and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Yet wisdom is vindicated by her deeds.”

    Maybe this passage doesn’t apply, but please show me?

    Peace in Christ

  4. Denny Burk August 17, 2005 at 1:29 pm #

    Dear Kris,

    Thank you for your thoughtful response. I don’t want to question their motives so much as I want to question their wisdom. I’m sure that they have a genuine desire to reach these people, and I hope that they do. I just think that biblically they have stepped over a line that wisdom would keep them from crossing.

    The Psalmist says “I will set no worthless thing before my eyes; I hate the work of those who fall away; It shall not fasten its grip on me” (Psalm 101:2-3). I would argue that the kind of discipline described in this text certainly applies to anyone thinking about going to a porn convention.

    If there is a male of the species who doesn’t have serious and ongoing struggles with lust, I simply haven’t met him yet. So it’s difficult for me to entertain the notion that some men just don’t have to worry about this sin—because I think all men should. Besides, even if one thinks that this isn’t a struggle for him, I would remind him of the apostle Paul’s admonition: “Let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall” (1 Cor 10:12). It’s such a pervasive threat to Christian men that I think going to such an event would be like playing with fire.

    I don’t think it’s accidental that when Jesus warns against lust He talks about “gouging out the eye” if need be to avoid committing sin (Matt 5:27-30). If one can attend a porn convention and not see porn, then I guess there would be no problem. But I think that’s very unlikely to be the case here.

    I think the scriptures command men to flee from sexual temptation (2 Timothy 2:22), not resist it. Solomon told his son that when it comes to the adulteress, “Keep your way far from her, And do not go near the door of her house” (Proverbs 5:8). Over and over in the Bible, men are commanded to run like crazy when they come upon a situation that might tempt them to sexual sin. This theme is pervasive in both Old and New Testaments. The patriarch Joseph modeled this when Potiphar’s wife tried to get him into bed. He took off running, left her holding his coat, and didn’t look back (Genesis 39:12).

    The passage that you quoted from Matthew is about people who reject the Gospel no matter how it’s put to them. John the Baptist’s message was a dirge (so to speak), and Jesus’ message was a joyful song; yet the Pharisees and others would not accept Jesus or John the Baptist’s Kingdom message because of Jesus’ association with sinners (cf. Matt 3:7; 9:11).

    I don’t know how one could make this text the basis for going to a porn convention. Yes, Jesus would publicly let a prostitute wash his feet with her hair and tears (Luke 7:36-39), but you don’t see him poking around in her brothel. Sure he extends mercy to the likes of the adulterous woman (John 8:1-11), but you don’t see him lurking in the shadows of people’s bedrooms so he might find some adulterers.

    I think the point is that we need to take the Gospel to everyone, and we need to go to the hard places. This is a part of the Great Commission, and it’s exactly what Jesus did. But going to hard places (biblically speaking) means going to those places that may cost us materially, bodily, etc. It doesn’t mean going to places that might cost us our integrity. After all, Jesus taught us to pray, “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.”

    Anywho, that’s where I’m coming from. I hope that’s helpful.

    Sincerely,
    Denny

  5. Kris August 17, 2005 at 1:59 pm #

    Dear Denny,

    Thank you very much for your reply by email and the time you gave to it for me. I understand now that you were not questioning their motives and more on their wisdom and I apologize to you for this. I agree with you that we must be wise lest we fall. I still maintain that some things even lust may not be temptation for some, although this doesn’t apply to me, I have to stay away for this has been a constant struggle for me when I am exposed to it. But I agree to disagree on this. Also the scripture I quoted I agree somewhat with you but I think it can be applied to people mostly looking on the outside of situations and not on the heart or motives. Anyway thank you again and I really do enjoy reading you posts. I am a southern Baptist myself and believe we are closer to true doctrine than most other denominations. May God bless your work for Him brother.

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