Donny's Ramblings

Dear Pastor Tom

22 Comments

The following is an email I sent to “Pastor Tom”. The backstory is this: On two separate radio shows Tom has voiced his opinion that the pastors of XXXChurch have made unwise decisions when setting up their booth on the show floor of porn shows. He says this because he has a hard time believing men can be surrounded by porn and not be tempted to “sin”. This is the letter I emailed to him in response.

Pastor Tom,

My name is Donny Pauling. My blog can be found at http://www.donnysramblings.com . I was formerly known as Donovan Phillips and I produced pornography from 1997 until September 25, 2006. I’m sure you know my story. It seems everyone does.

I’ve listened to your interviews with XXXChurch. I just have to tell you very simply and bluntly: you’re wrong. Sorry, but you are. And I mean nothing personal by this, but to be entirely honest I never would have responded to you. You’d have done the opposite of “turning me on” to Christ. It is people with the attitude you have in your two interviews that turned me off completely. In fact, part of the reason I delved deeper and deeper into porn was to shove it into the faces of people like you from my past. I wanted to shock them as much as possible and send them hiding behind the “holy” walls of their local church. That sounded very harsh, I know. But I just want to tell you the honest truth. I’ll elaborate more as my email progresses.

Personally, I never would have given the guys from XXXChurch a second look had they NOT been on the floor of the show. If they had stood on the outside of the door I would have looked at them as I did every other “Christian” at that time: judgmental and thinking of themselves as “too good” or “too holy” to come inside with me.

Now please believe me: I understand some of your concerns about putting pornography in front of the faces of men. I used to “give ’em hell” on the XXXChurch blogs and message boards about the exact same issue. Why? Because I knew that’s where my comments would hurt them most. I knew, from my Christian background, that would be where Christians such as yourself would be “hitting them” as well. I pounded away on that same wound because that is where these guys are most vulnerable. I KNEW that the very people who should be supporting them most, the Christians, would undoubtedly pound on them for being in there with all of us sinners.

I don’t think you realize how horribly most Christians hurt people. The judgmental attitude does so much more harm than good. Let me give you a story from my past that really burned me up when dealing with Christians: I attended a church where a very “sinful” woman came to give her heart to God. She was saved and tried hard to walk the path she knew she must walk. But she had fallen so low in her life that it was very difficult not to mess up at times. Soon she’d messed up enough that a few of the “saints” made her feel really bad about it. On a Sunday morning when the rest of us were in church, she put a gun in her mouth and pulled the trigger. Her children were left without a mother and there is no doubt in my mind that a big part of the blame lays on the “saints” who made her feel guilty and unworthy. They were her last hope and failed her miserably.

Because of situations like this I absolutely HATED Christians. I can’t honestly say all of that hatred is completely gone, but I am certainly asking God to take it away. Christians seem to forget that the very word “Christian” means they must be “like Christ”. Jesus was not judgmental. He shunned the saints to hang out with the sinners. He spent his time in those places where the need was greatest. Jesus would have been on the porn show floor with us.

People like you, sir, spend your time amongst the saints. You are too good/afraid to sin/ whatever to get out there with us sinners. For that, most of us hate you. In fact, if I gave you the list of adult industry message boards you’d see that I am now facing an enormous amount of persecution from my former colleagues in the porn business simply because I’ve publicly professed my decision to follow Christ. All of that hatred is due to their own past experiences with Christians. Their perceptions of what being a Christian means has been so screwed up by the “saints” that they have no idea what it means to find someone who is truly trying to be like Christ.

That is why the men from XXXChurch got my attention two years ago. They were NOT afraid to come in on my level. They were confident that Jesus Christ would give them the strength they needed to face the temptations they may or may not face, all so that they could focus on their goal of bringing his message of love to me and all of the other pornographers and porn actresses and sinners alike. I gave them such grief for that… so much so that they had to ban me from their sites a few times. But I was testing them. I was beating them up to see if they stood up to it.

In a perfect world you could respond to this message and tell me that I need to put my eyes on God and take them off of men. In a perfect world you’d be right. But here in the real world we have to live with the fact that the only “flesh and blood” most people will ever see from God comes in the shape of those who profess to follow him, and we therefore have to either (a) be perfect or (b) acknowledge that we’re just human beings too. Since “a” isn’t possible we must go with “b”. And having an attitude that we’re too holy to mingle with the sinners doesn’t work for letter “b”.

Now, since you doubt that Christian men can go into a porn convention without being tempted beyond what they’re able to bear, let me tell you a little about said porn shows. I know JR wants you to go with him to Las Vegas to experience this for yourself, but perhaps I can shed a bit of light before hand. Please forgive me because I’m about to get a little graphic, but you’re a big boy and I know you can handle it. Here I go with some examples from this past AVN show in Las Vegas:

1. In one display area there were videos playing where young ladies put suction cups on their genitals. These cups sucked said genitals so hard they began to swell to several times their normal size. The resulting images and videos showed vaginas that were horribly deformed. Sound good to you? (visit xxxchurch.com for help if it does)

2. In another display there were devices being sold that looked like pogo sticks. On part of this “pogo stick” was a penis. The intent of this object is for a woman to place it inside herself and bounce on it. The people selling this item were rather hairy and sweaty. Turned on yet? No? Okay, let me see if I can do better.

3. How about videos of machines that are made strictly to have sex with women? A dildo is placed on the end of a mechanical device that rotates at several thousand RPMs, rapidly penetrating a model on the other end. Do I have you going yet?

You mean you’re not turned on? Your stomach is churning? I know how you feel, because the first time I was at the show I felt sick to my stomach as well. But it really sucks that I’ve already grossed you out because I haven’t even told you about some of the most depraved forms of entertainment being shown on the floor. I haven’t told you about the transsexual who was wandering the floor in his pink dress with his penis hanging out for all to see. I bet that would have moved you, right? I haven’t told you about the objects being sold that are meant to inflict pain on genitals of both men and women, along with the graphic photographs meant to portray how those objects are to be used. I haven’t told you about…. Okay, I’ll stop. Take a deep breath. You’ll be okay, I promise.

See, it’s altogether possible that Christian men who are on a mission to help deliver lost souls from the porn industry ARE INDEED able to resist the “temptations” they run across. And don’t you see how it might make an impact on those of us wandering the floor that these “Bible Thumpers” aren’t afraid to spend time with us in such an environment? It definitely gets our attention and makes us wonder what’s going on. What are these people doing in here passing out “Jesus loves porn stars” shirts? Why are they giving us Bibles? Why are they asking us to sign some chart that says we’ll go without porn for just one week… just give it a try? I can tell you from experience, it plants seeds. My seeds took a few years to germinate, but they eventually popped out of the ground. Why? Because I was seeing men who were truly acting like the Jesus Christ I’d read about in my earlier years. These men were spending time with us “tax collectors” and “prostitutes”. They weren’t standing around having pious discussions with each other like all the pharisees I’d known growing up.

Sir, I doubt you can stomach the things you’d see at a porn convention. But thank God he has a few men who can.

Respectfully yours,

Donny Pauling
Former Porn Producer

22 thoughts on “Dear Pastor Tom

  1. Wow…this is in response to the talk show JR was on a few weeks ago, right? You know what’s inside there, I don’t. But you said pretty much exactly the same things I thought when I heard the show.Even if the show showed off the most provocative stuff available, God can make a person strong enough to deny any temptation with it. I HAVE to think this, or I dishonor God, thinking that he is less than he is. I will not put God in a box.I know that I could never go to any porn show…I’m naturally inclined to porn and that past hurts my ability to be in that environment. But I’m convinced that God can strengthen those who aren’t inclined toward porn so they CAN stand firm, they CAN redeem the area they’re in and they CAN keep their testimony intact.If that’s impossible, as others claim, then God isn’t the all-powerful one that he claims to be…and why would I then follow him?Anyway, great email. I hope you get a response back.

  2. Wow…this is in response to the talk show JR was on a few weeks ago, right? You know what’s inside there, I don’t. But you said pretty much exactly the same things I thought when I heard the show.
    Even if the show showed off the most provocative stuff available, God can make a person strong enough to deny any temptation with it. I HAVE to think this, or I dishonor God, thinking that he is less than he is. I will not put God in a box.
    I know that I could never go to any porn show…I’m naturally inclined to porn and that past hurts my ability to be in that environment. But I’m convinced that God can strengthen those who aren’t inclined toward porn so they CAN stand firm, they CAN redeem the area they’re in and they CAN keep their testimony intact.
    If that’s impossible, as others claim, then God isn’t the all-powerful one that he claims to be…and why would I then follow him?
    Anyway, great email. I hope you get a response back.

  3. Woops…just read the xxxchurch blog, so now I get the context. Cool!

  4. Woops…just read the xxxchurch blog, so now I get the context. Cool!

  5. Well said Donny. I was telling a pastoral colleague about XXXChurch and how stoked I am that there are guys like that out there and he sort of looked at me like WTF? I’ve always been a foxholes and trenches Christian myself. I know I can get hurt and tempted and maybe even mess up…but the apostle Paul said he would be “cut off from Christ” if it would see some people come to saving grace. That’s truly hardcore.

  6. Well said Donny. I was telling a pastoral colleague about XXXChurch and how stoked I am that there are guys like that out there and he sort of looked at me like WTF? I’ve always been a foxholes and trenches Christian myself. I know I can get hurt and tempted and maybe even mess up…but the apostle Paul said he would be “cut off from Christ” if it would see some people come to saving grace. That’s truly hardcore.

  7. I am filled with respect for the xxxchurch guys, as I know that I couldn’t go to a porn show.

  8. I am filled with respect for the xxxchurch guys, as I know that I couldn’t go to a porn show.

  9. Donny: As a pastor who has been very encouraged by the way Mike, Craig, and their cohorts have embodied the transforming, pursuing good news that is Jesus, I just want to thank you for being brave (or foolish – a word with new definitions in God’s Kingdom) enough to let folks participate in and observe your journey. I can’t help but wonder if I were in your shoes whether I’d make the same choice; I might be more inclined to slink away quietly and avoid all the scrutiny. Bless you for your honesty and transparency.

    I think we have much to learn from you, and your letter to Pastor Tom is a letter to many more than him. I don’t know Tom, and I haven’t yet listened to the radio shows or podcast, so I can’t speak to his specific words or spirit. All I can say is I think you’re right. I think the xxxchurch folks are right to be in and among their Jerusalem, and I think you’re right to testify to the grace they demonstrated to you and how it turned your world upside down.

    Like you, I get angry with Christians (and I’ve never not claimed to be one). We can be a difficult lot, prone to fear and impatience with people and things that are unfamiliar and uncomfortable for us. The 20th century gave us a Christian subculture which prized insulation and separation at the expense of incarnation and contextualization. We should know better, but the gravitational forces pulling us further away from the realities of a broken world are very, very strong. Religion lurks on the outskirts of faith, counterfeiting the real thing and competing for converts. Strange as it may sound, leaving the apparent security of that world is as daunting to many (most?) professing modern American Christians as is your exodus from the porn world. They (we) need no less grace than you.

    Don’t misunderstand me – it’s right for you to speak the truth and speak it clearly. I don’t know you, but I suspect your anger is righteous and justified. As I said, we have much to learn from you, and we don’t need you to sanitize the reality you know. I pray we’ll receive from you, you from us, and that we’ll all extend one another grace along the way. Peace.

  10. Wow, very well put, Donny!

  11. Wow, very well put, Donny!

  12. well said… I’m glad you took a stand the way you did.

  13. well said… I’m glad you took a stand the way you did.

  14. Hey Donny,

    You’re a cool guy. The letter was pretty good. Well good luck buddy whatever you decide! You too Belinda!
    Nothing wrong with a little nude photography here and there!

  15. I have been reading your blog since i heard about it in a xxxchurch news letter. i have to say that what you say is so true and i wish and pray it wasn’t. From the bottom of my heart as a brother in our Lord, i am truly glad that you said what you did and exposed the problem within the modern christian society. One thing that i wish you would talk about more is the damage women go through, being in porn. Until i was reading some of your old blog that i really came to even imagine that these women could not be happy with the choices that they make. I guess i am asking why do they do something that the feel like crap after doing? I think alot of people could benefit from hearing what you have to say about this.

  16. I have been reading your blog since i heard about it in a xxxchurch news letter. i have to say that what you say is so true and i wish and pray it wasn’t. From the bottom of my heart as a brother in our Lord, i am truly glad that you said what you did and exposed the problem within the modern christian society. One thing that i wish you would talk about more is the damage women go through, being in porn. Until i was reading some of your old blog that i really came to even imagine that these women could not be happy with the choices that they make. I guess i am asking why do they do something that the feel like crap after doing? I think alot of people could benefit from hearing what you have to say about this.

  17. Hey, I left a message previously after finding your blog late September.I’ve been reading along since then and every time you write, I get goosebumps down my spine. It’s really amazing to see how you’re really taking a beating from a lot of people and you’re still standing up straight. Good luck with your personal situations, eventually God will provide answers to that too.Your letter to “Pastor Tom” is very straight to the point, I often hear “agnostics” or other people that do not believe in God, refer to christians in the way you desribed, even my boyfriend has simply been turned off by the many sunday-christians out there (my boyfriend’s Mother one of them) that do not truly live in Jesus footsteps. They need a good smack upside the head, and I hope your letter will do exactly that to “Pastor Tom”Goodluck, don’t give up!-Arenda

  18. Hey, I left a message previously after finding your blog late September.
    I’ve been reading along since then and every time you write, I get goosebumps down my spine.
    It’s really amazing to see how you’re really taking a beating from a lot of people and you’re still standing up straight. Good luck with your personal situations, eventually God will provide answers to that too.
    Your letter to “Pastor Tom” is very straight to the point, I often hear “agnostics” or other people that do not believe in God, refer to christians in the way you desribed, even my boyfriend has simply been turned off by the many sunday-christians out there (my boyfriend’s Mother one of them) that do not truly live in Jesus footsteps. They need a good smack upside the head, and I hope your letter will do exactly that to “Pastor Tom”

    Goodluck, don’t give up!
    -Arenda

  19. Truth is they’ve sat in their pews for two thousand years and they still don’t understand that Jesus washed her feet because the ground she walked on wasn’t pure enough for her.

  20. Truth is they’ve sat in their pews for two thousand years and they still don’t understand that Jesus washed her feet because the ground she walked on wasn’t pure enough for her.

  21. Your story about that woman breaks my heart. I think the problem with “Christians” is that so many have an incorrect understanding of grace and sanctification. I could go on and on about this. God’s grace covers all of our sins, all our imperfections, all of our idiosyncrasies. Jesus’ death on the cross took care of all our sins – those we committed before we were saved AND those we committed since that moment. But still, we think it’s easier to follow rules than to try to live in the reality of grace. We quickly forget Paul’s warning to the Colossians: Since you died with Christ to the basic principles of this world, why, as though you still belonged to it, do you submit to its rules: “Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!”? These are all destined to perish with use, because they are based on human commands and teachings. Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence. Colossians 2:20-23Rules will get your nowhere fast. How many Christians have said “this is the last time I’ll commit this sin”, and it really wasn’t? And they certainly won’t help you to understand God’s character.And sanctification is another story. Christians are afraid to get their hands dirty (yes, I’ve read “The Gutter” by Craig and cried all the way through it). I think of the story of Lazarus in John 11. When Lazarus came out of that tomb, he was smelly, dirty, and tightly wrapped in grave clothes. But Jesus saw through all that, knowing that Lazarus was once dead but had been made alive, and that underneath those stinky grave clothes was a new creation. He asked those present (Jews, who were forbidden to tough a dead person) to see past the grave clothes to the new person underneath and unwrap him. Christians often expect that when someone gets saved, they are instantly supposed to be a new creation. They don’t want to have to get their hands dirty. Keep sharing your thoughts and esploring them. And don’t give up on Christians.

  22. Your story about that woman breaks my heart. I think the problem with “Christians” is that so many have an incorrect understanding of grace and sanctification. I could go on and on about this. God’s grace covers all of our sins, all our imperfections, all of our idiosyncrasies. Jesus’ death on the cross took care of all our sins – those we committed before we were saved AND those we committed since that moment.

    But still, we think it’s easier to follow rules than to try to live in the reality of grace. We quickly forget Paul’s warning to the Colossians: Since you died with Christ to the basic principles of this world, why, as though you still belonged to it, do you submit to its rules: “Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!”? These are all destined to perish with use, because they are based on human commands and teachings. Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence. Colossians 2:20-23

    Rules will get your nowhere fast. How many Christians have said “this is the last time I’ll commit this sin”, and it really wasn’t? And they certainly won’t help you to understand God’s character.

    And sanctification is another story. Christians are afraid to get their hands dirty (yes, I’ve read “The Gutter” by Craig and cried all the way through it). I think of the story of Lazarus in John 11. When Lazarus came out of that tomb, he was smelly, dirty, and tightly wrapped in grave clothes. But Jesus saw through all that, knowing that Lazarus was once dead but had been made alive, and that underneath those stinky grave clothes was a new creation. He asked those present (Jews, who were forbidden to tough a dead person) to see past the grave clothes to the new person underneath and unwrap him. Christians often expect that when someone gets saved, they are instantly supposed to be a new creation. They don’t want to have to get their hands dirty.

    Keep sharing your thoughts and esploring them. And don’t give up on Christians.

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