A Christian ministry concerned with reaching out to those involved in pornography — both users and producers — was present at the massive “Erotica Expo” at the Los Angeles Convention Center. Billed as the world’s largest consumer pornography trade show, the event was expected to attract over 50,000 persons. From their booth at the trade show, the leaders of www.xxxchurch.com passed out an edition of The Message (a paraphrase of the New Testament) with cover art that declared: “Jesus Loves Porn Stars.”

I talked about this issue on Sunday’s edition of ABC World News Tonight, along with Craig Gross of the XXXchurch ministry. [See video here, transcript here]

From the transcript:

Christians agree that the Bible commands them to “go and make disciples of all nations” and that Jesus “came to invite the sinners” to be his followers and “save people who are lost.” But a new Bible with the words “Jesus Loves Porn Stars” emblazoned on the cover has ignited a debate about how far is too far when it comes to spreading the word.

This weekend at the erotica convention in Los Angeles, Pastor Craig Gross, who runs an anti-pornography ministry, handed out hundreds of “Jesus Loves Porn Stars” Bibles. Gross, in his “porn-mobile,” is a regular fixture at porn conventions. His anti-porn Web site is provocatively entitled XXXChurch.com.

“I believe Jesus, he’d be in the show with us,” Gross said. “He’d be mixing it up with these people. ‘Cause he doesn’t look at them as porn stars, or porn producers. He looks at us as all the same.”

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. 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.

A quick survey of news coverage related to the Erotica Expo is sufficient, I believe, to indicate that a Christian ministry has no place there as one exhibit among others. I will not link to this coverage as a matter of my own judgment. Readers of this Web site are sufficiently intelligent to find that coverage on your own. You have been warned.

I do not doubt the evangelistic sincerity of those who lead this ministry. This is a question of judgment, principle, and strategy — not a question of motivation. Furthermore, I am quite certain that middle class evangelicals are far too risk-averse in evangelistic outreach to those outside our comfort zones. This is to our shame.

Still, there are real questions here — and we discussed those issues on Friday’s edition of The Albert Mohler Program. [Listen here]