Porn Nation Discussion Guide [NOOK Book]

Overview


It's a $100 billion a year industry worldwide. Even bigger when you consider the fact that porn is now the norm in our mainstream media. But have you ever stopped to think about why, when it comes to porn, we just can't seem to get enough? And are we certain this supposedly "cheap form of harmless entertainment" isn't changing the way we see ourselves and others?

Enter Michael Leahy, a guy who spent over 30 years as a recreational user of ...

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Porn Nation Discussion Guide

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Overview


It's a $100 billion a year industry worldwide. Even bigger when you consider the fact that porn is now the norm in our mainstream media. But have you ever stopped to think about why, when it comes to porn, we just can't seem to get enough? And are we certain this supposedly "cheap form of harmless entertainment" isn't changing the way we see ourselves and others?

Enter Michael Leahy, a guy who spent over 30 years as a recreational user of pornography. That is until he discovered what many experts refer to as "the crack cocaine of sexual addiction"- Internet porn. What happened next would change everything, not just for Michael and his family, but for all of us living in this Porn Nation.

This discussion guide is designed for small groups and youth groups to get people thinking and talking about the effects of pornography in their lives. It can accompany either Porn Nation: Conquering America's #1 Addiction or Porn Nation: Student Edition.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781575673875
  • Publisher: Moody Publishers
  • Publication date: 5/2/2008
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 64
  • File size: 269 KB

Meet the Author


MICHAEL LEAHY has captured the nation's attention by speaking out on the topic no one wants to talk about. He is founder and Executive Director of BraveHearts, a non-profit organization whose goal is to build a global healing community of "brave hearts", and is author of Porn Nation, Porn @ Work, and Porn University. He has appeared on national television programs, in major media publications, and nationally syndicated radio programs. He and his wife, Christine, currently reside in the Washington, D.C. area.


MICHAEL LEAHY has captured the nation's attention by speaking out on the topic no one wants to talk about. He is founder and Executive Director of BraveHearts, a non-profit organization whose goal is to build a global healing community of "brave hearts", and is author of Porn Nation, Porn @ Work, and Porn University. He has appeared on national television programs, in major media publications, and nationally syndicated radio programs. He and his wife, Christine, currently reside in the Washington, D.C. area.

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Read an Excerpt

Porn Nation Discussion Guide


By Michael Leahy, Rick James, Christopher Reese

Moody Publishers

Copyright © 2008 Michael Leahy
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-57567-387-5



CHAPTER 1

DISCUSSION GUIDE


PORN COMES OF AGE

Before porn could be stashed in tidy folders far down in the subdirectory of a computer, people actually had to physically hide their porn. It's true. And we used to have to walk five miles to school, listen to record albums, and change the TV channels without a remote. Yes, these were the pioneering days of porn, and I'd find pictures of naked women in the strangest of places. In the bathroom at a friend's house. In the woods, hidden under old pieces of plywood. In piles of trash. Whenever I'd come across these pictures, I would just stare, silently inhaling the images, taking them in to every cell of my being and locking them there. In the magazines, the pictures didn't just show women naked from the waist up. Unlike the black-and-white images on the deck of playing cards, these pictures were in color—glorious 1970s color—before photographers had isolated the gene for oversaturation.

Most of the time I found Playboy magazines, but occasionally I'd stumble across some really weird stuff with men and women, I assumed, having sex. I'd heard about sex before, but no one had ever sat down and explained it to me. The magazines made it look dirty, sometimes downright disgusting. The only sex education I'd had up to that point was a special night class that I attended, at school, with my father, taught by a priest. As I think about it, this was probably an effective way to teach abstinence, even lifelong celibacy.

So that was the extent of my formal and informal sex education. Looking at all of those pictures was exciting, but I still didn't know what to do with that newfound sexual energy. But then, as most of us do, I found out ... all by myself.

Throughout junior high, suffice it to say that being sent to my room was no longer a punishment. I sent myself. That's how I learned to cope with the angst of stress, pressure, boredom, frustration, Mondays, bad hair days, and the absence of Oreos in the pantry. It was a cure-all more versatile than aspirin. Unfortunately, it didn't resolve any of the real issues; it was simply a pacifier that I would refuse to grow out of.

—Michael Leahy, Porn Nation: The Naked Truth


DISCUSS

1. For me, pornography and sex became a coping mechanism for dealing with negative feelings. Is this really a problem, or is it just normal?

2. I found out about sex primarily from porn and peers. Though I'm sure they tried, my parents really didn't factor into it. How did you learn about sex?

3. Do you think porn serves any role in sex education? Why or why not?

4. What might be some of the harmful messages implicit in porn, especially for adolescents learning about sex?

5. In my Porn Nation presentations, I share, with no small amount of embarrassment, some of my defining and formative sexual experiences. What events or experiences have shaped you and your views about sex?

6. For me, college life was like "throwing gas on the fire" of my growing addiction. How has college life changed your views and practices concerning sex?

7. Like many kids, I stumbled upon pornographic material that had been hidden by adults. How would you feel if you found porn on your parents' computer? Why?

8. Have your parents ever done anything in the sexual area that has disappointed or hurt you?

9. Do you ever experience guilt or shame related to any past sexual experience? If you could erase any sexual event or experience, what would it be?

10. When you were young, do you feel you were adequately protected from negative sexual experiences or influences like porn?

11. To the frustration of some, I'm sure, I bring God into the Porn Nation discussion. He is, after all, relevant to any moral or spiritual discussion, and I feel sex involves both. Which of the following would you say is true (discuss your answer)?

God likes porn—God created sex and is glad we are having fun with it.

God does not care about porn—it's not a big deal as long as we are not hurting others.

God does not like porn—

God created sex and is saddened by the abuse and exploitation of it.

God is pretty old-fashioned and is not aware of the Internet.

12. As they relate to God, which of these thoughts brings you the most comfort (discuss your answer)?

God isn't there, and we are free to do whatever we want sexually.

God is there and will forgive us for our failures in the sexual area.

God is there and will ultimately judge all evil.

God is there and will lead me in finding a person to truly love.

God is there, and he's like Morgan Freeman.


REFLECTION

For those interested, to understand God's heart in relation to marriage and sex, it would be helpful between now and next week to read over part of Jesus' Sermon on the Mount found in the gospel of Matthew, chapter 5.


MARRIED TO PORN

Adopting the Las Vegas axiom "What happens here, stays here," I decided not to go into great detail about my sexual past with my wife, Patty, and I never told her about my affinity for pornography. I convinced myself that we were a good match and that our sexual past wasn't important. Plus, I reasoned, once we're married I won't want to look at that stuff anymore. Somehow, I just knew that my lust for the material would magically go away once we started having regular bedroom sex as husband and wife. But just to make sure, right before I asked her to marry me, I took a trip to a place called Hedonism with a couple of my friends for a final sex binge. Let's just say that the resort lived up to its name, and leave it there. My goal was to get it all out of my system so that I would be ready to settle down to a wife and, hopefully, a family of my own. Funny how feeding your addictions in no way gets them out of your system—funny.

But the first clue suggesting my past was not getting boxed up along with my bachelor furnishings came no sooner than our wedding night. While Patty and I were hanging out in the lobby of the hotel, I started having a few drinks with my family and friends. As the night wore on, I started noticing the other women in the lobby, drinking in images as I used to with pornography. Part of "drinking in images" involved undressing them with my mind, followed by imagining myself having sex with them. It's a form of mental rape and is sexually arousing in a way that can hardly be detected by anyone else. It was a way of feeding myself lustful thoughts to fantasize on later.

So here I was on my wedding day, Patty all dressed in white, yet all I could think of was having sex with some of the bridesmaids and barflies at the hotel pub. Later that night, when we were finally alone, I would tell her that I was too tired from the busy day, then roll over and fall asleep. I never gave a second thought to what this night meant to her, and what kind of memories she would hold on to from that day. In retrospect it was ironically poetic: as the wedding night is the unveiling of one's spouse, Patty had gotten to see the real me as well as a trailer for the next decade and a half of our marriage. Nearly fifteen years would pass before we would ever talk to each other about what didn't happen on our wedding night and many other nights to follow.

—Michael Leahy,Porn Nation: The Naked Truth


DISCUSS

1. What do you believe that people are looking for in relationships?

2. What is the healthiest dating/marriage relationship you have ever personally observed? What made it "healthy"?

3. What was the worst relationship you ever had? What made it so horrible? Why did it fail?

4. Do you believe men and women are looking for different things in relationships? If so, what are the differences?

5. Do you think casual sex affects the self-esteem of men differently than women? How about the experience of jealousy and guilt?

6. My first wife, Patty, was not aware of my problem going into our marriage. Do you think you could marry a person knowing they struggle with porn or sexual addiction? What would be a "deal breaker" for you?

7. Would it be a problem for you to find out that your spouse had had many sexual partners before you?

8. In your mind, are there any circumstances that justify marital unfaithfulness?

9. Divorce rates hover around 50 percent. What do you think are the major reasons for this? Do you believe you will be married to the same person your whole life?

10. What do you think is most important to a successful marriage (rank in order and discuss)?

—Friendship and compatibility

—Sexual attraction and satisfaction

—Sharing the same spiritual and moral values

—Having things in common

—Good communication11.Again, it is difficult for me to separate God from sex and relationships. Do you think that God (discuss):

—Has someone specific for you to marry?

—Is irrelevant to your relationships?

—Isn't concerned with who you marry as long as you love them?

—Makes His will known through the search engines of eHarmony?

12. For those of you who do, why do you believe that God created sex? Marriage?

Many assume they know what the New Testament says about sex, but

have never actually read it for themselves. So here, take a read:

It is God's will that you should ... avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control his own body in a way that is ... honorable, not in passionate lust like [those] who do not know God; and that in this matter no one should wrong his brother or take advantage of him. (1 Thessalonians 4:3–6)

13. Do you think this is unreasonable or out of date? Why would sexual immorality be something that wrongs or takes advantage of someone else?


REFLECT

As relationships can move quickly in unplanned directions, it's important to give thought beforehand to some of the issues raised in this discussion. Between now and next week, on the page below, write out your beliefs, desires, and convictions as they relate to marriage and dating.


Marriage and Dating

Beliefs (what do I believe about marriage and dating?):

_____________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________


Desires (what is it I am truly looking for in a relationship?):

_____________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________


Convictions (no matter what, I will not cross these lines):

_____________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________


GENERATION SEX

The more time I had to myself, whether employed or not so employed, the more time I spent looking at porn. Now, fast access was becoming available at home, and I was the first to get it. But a new twist was added to my addiction. Just as Pepsi and Coke boost sales by adding diversity to their product line (Pepsi Light, Pepsi Lime, Pepsi Free, Pepsi Vanilla), so do the international manufacturers of porn. And as the number of pornographic sites proliferated, market niches multiplied like rabbits, offering porn in a starburst of flavors. Curious, and growing bored of Porn Light and Diet Porn, I started sampling the new brands. Stuff I had only heard of, or never even knew existed—girl on girl, lots of girls on lots of guys, BDS&M, web cams—so much to choose from.

One in particular, voyeurism, caught and captured my attention. I don't know exactly why. Whatever the reason, I would spend hours jumping from site to site, page to page, looking at hidden camera images of unsuspecting women.

This particular genre of porn created a greater level of sexual stimulation for me. Somehow a hierarchy gets established in the mind; it was, for example, more stimulating for me to see hidden camera shots of unsuspecting women than it was looking at pictures of group sex, which was more arousing than couple sex, which was more exciting than pictures of a naked woman, which—if we need to continue the regression— was more exciting than Marge Simpson in tennis shorts, and on and on. Eventually you get to a point where "normal" pictures and videos of naked women just don't do it for you anymore—it's warm, caffeine-free, diet Porn. But whenever I used these edgier images, my sexual arousal and the resulting climax were far more intense. Pavlovian dog that I had become, once I figured out how to get this "higher high," I spent more and more time salivating over increasingly debase forms of pornography. The more disturbing the image, the more I had to separate my emotions from what I was looking at, and the more I had to view women as objects instead of people. That was the only way I could reconcile what I was doing with these images in my mind with how I saw myself—or wanted other people to see me.

—Michael Leahy, Porn Nation: The Naked Truth


DISCUSS

1. How have you noticed sexual attitudes changing just in your own lifetime?

2. Do you have any concerns about what the next twenty years may bring in the sexual climate of our culture?

3. In what ways have you seen the effects of our increasingly sexualized culture on today's adolescents, perhaps even a brother or sister?

4. Along these lines, who do you think is the most, and least, helpful as far as cultural role models go?

5. In the current sexual climate how is a person perceived whose conviction is to wait for marriage before having sex?

6. Does the word virgin have the same connotations with women as it does men?

7. In your own thinking, what is wrong with an adolescent (say ages 10–13) having sex?

8. Studies indicate that many teens only consider intercourse to be sex, and nothing else. Is this your perspective? What makes sex, sex?

9. Do you think porn objectifies women? If so, why do you think women participate in it?

10. In Porn Nation I refer to porn's wide variety of genres (S&M, bondage, bestiality, voyeurism, group sex, child pornography, amateur/reality, etc.). How do you draw a line between what is personal preference and what is mental/moral deviancy?

11. As I mention in Porn Nation, voyeurism held a particular fascination for me. Many people have similar sexual fetishes or preferences.

Where do you think these fetishes come from? After prolonged use of porn, many gravitate toward such deviations. Why?

12. What sorts of difficulties might you encounter in trying to censor pornography in our society? Should we pass laws against it?

13. Every culture has general beliefs about sex that influence everything from media to fashion. List some of those unspoken beliefs that our culture has about sex.

14. How do these subtle messages affect you?

15. How do you honestly feel about raising your children in the current sexual environment? What scares you the most?


REFLECT

Springboarding from this discussion, as you go about your week, look to observe the degree of sexualization you see around you. on the ways this does and does not affect or influence you.


SEX SYNDROME

From the studies, it is apparent that many teens believe intercourse is the only thing that constitutes sex and that other sexual activities do not really count (kind of like ripping off only one flag in a game of flag football), and so any additional beliefs and pressures will all scaffold atop an already shaky foundation of thought.

As the game of Jenga continues, you have to stack on top social variables such as peer pressure. The Kaiser Family Foundation found 60% of teens cited "many of their friends had already done it" as a factor influencing their decision to have sex.

It's beginning to get a little wobbly, but we now need to heap upon it the weight of media, causing the whole structure to tremble with the blaring message that women need to be sexy or sexual enough in order to get the guy. Fifty-nine percent of girls age 12–19 agree that society tells them that attracting boys and acting sexy is one of the most important things teen girls can do.

There are, of course, always personal and societal barriers that act as drag on cultural change and hinder its rather deliberate speed. And this is perhaps where pornography plays its most significant role, lending Orwellian right-think media support to the sexual insurgency: changing attitudes of what's acceptable, causing passions to overflow their boundaries, sanding down inhibitions, and inciting the overthrow of restraint.

So the tower is beginning to crumble, but that shouldn't stop us from adding the last straw. What of a teen's psychological needs for acceptance and love, especially if the cupboards are bare at home? While the amount of psychological pressure varies from person to person and relationship to relationship, there is always some degree of pressure on women to act out sexually for the sake of impressing, pleasing, or keeping their boyfriends.

And that is how change happens and why cultural prophets are all too often narrow-minded in their laments, blaming it all on the media, or all on dysfunctional families, or all on peer pressure. The witch hunt is doomed from the start, as it is only hunting for a single witch. Cause and effect is as constant as gravity. But the relationship between causes and effects is often as complex as we find it in nature. It is not one thing, but the interplay of many things, eventually reaching a threshold ... and then the winds change.

—Michael Leahy, Porn Nation: The Naked Truth


(Continues...)

Excerpted from Porn Nation Discussion Guide by Michael Leahy, Rick James, Christopher Reese. Copyright © 2008 Michael Leahy. Excerpted by permission of Moody Publishers.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Table of Contents

Contents

About the Authors,
Introduction,
Discussion Guide,
Next Steps, Resources, Discussion Leaders' Guide,

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