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Living in a “Porn Nation” – Thousands of College Students Learn About Porn in American Culture

Last Updated: July 30, 2021

Luke Gilkerson

Luke Gilkerson has a BA in Philosophy and Religious Studies and an MA in Religion. He is the author of Coming Clean: Overcoming Lust Through Biblical Accountability and The Talk: 7 Lessons to Introduce Your Child to Biblical Sexuality. Luke and his wife Trisha blog at IntoxicatedOnLife.com

Meet Michael Leahy, former sex/porn addict and author of the new book, Porn Nation.

Porn Nation is more than the title of a new anti-pornography book. It is also the title of Michael Leahy’s controversial presentation he has given across the country at over 200 college campuses in front of more than 100,000 students. That’s right—thousands of students have packed out college auditoriums to hear Michael Leahy’s testimony about how pornography nearly ruined his life.

I did a quick Google search for “Porn Nation” to see what might come up. After opening over 45 online college newspapers, plus at least a dozen posts from bloggers, I realized that Mr. Leahy has been a busy guy. Since most of us have probably not followed Leahy’s “porn tour” very closely, I thought it would be cool to give a synopsis of what he’s been talking about and how college students have been reacting.

The College Tour

During his visit to over 100 campuses (mostly in the U.S. and Canada but also in Bosnia and Croatia) his message has also been featured and discussed on news and talk shows like 20/20 and The View, as well as local NBC, CBS, CNN and Fox News affiliates. Leahy was also recently quoted in USA Today talking about how the advances in mobile technology will make it easier for people to access porn at work.

Students are coming out in hundreds to hear Leahy. About 200 at the University of Miami, Florida, 300 at University of California, 350 at Northwestern University, over 500 students at Glendale College, another 1,500 at North Carolina State University, and nearly 2,000 at Purdue.

Why the college campuses?

Porn is now the norm in our culture, and no one understands that better than today’s college students,” Leahy told students at the University of Central Oklahoma, “From the rapid rise of cyber porn addiction among male and female college students to its role in influencing the high incidence of rapes and prevalence of eating disorders among college co-eds, the growing influence of porn in the midst of an already sexually charged campus culture is taking a very real toll on students’ lives.”

He told one student reporter at the University of North Carolina, “I see campuses as ground zero in the battle.”

Student reporters at Northeastern University, asked Leahy the same question: Why make so many trips to college campuses? “Because of where college students are at—they’re away from their parents, they’re away from that parental authority at a time that they’re also exploring their own sexuality, their sexual identity.”

Leahy also commented, “And [college students are] also in the cross-hairs of the hypersexual culture that’s our media and our marketing machinery in this nation. I just want them to have a balanced perspective and consider another side of this when they’re formulating their belief systems that are going to influence the rest of their lives.”

Perhaps in the back of Leahy’s mind is his own college experience. He states, “College life was a whole new ballgame. No more sneaking around and hiding from my inquisitive parents. Finally, I was free and in control of my own life. All my friends and I consumed soft-core porn as if it was the daily newspaper.”

Michael Leahy’s Porn Addiction

Students who come to Leahy’s 90-minute presentation get to hear the story of his sexual downfall. Like many of today’s kids, Leahy first set his eyes on pornography when he was 11 years old. This began for him a pattern of behavior that would consume the next 30 years of his life.

What started as a curiosity in his early teens became a thirst for the real thing. Like many teens today, early high school was a time of sexual pursuit.

Leahy states, “I got a high-level job as a computer industry sales executive and married the woman of my dreams. On my wedding night, I was struck by the thought that my bride wouldn’t be enough for me sexually. That should have told me that I had a problem with sexual compulsivity.”

His thirst for sex and pornography grew over the years. Then the Internet came into the picture. He began viewing pornography at work and on the road—anywhere he could get access to the Internet.

“Being in the computer industry, it didn’t take me long to discover that the Internet was loaded with an unlimited supply and variety of pornographic images. I could remain anonymous while viewing it, it didn’t cost me anything, and I always had access to it as long as a phone line was nearby. It was a sex addict’s dream, thousands of images to be viewed, totally in the privacy in the office, home or hotel room. It was also the beginning of the end for my marriage and my family.”

One day the woman of his pornographic dreams walked into his office. She embodied all that he lusted after in pornography. So he had an affair. This led to the end of his fifteen year marriage, the loss of his job, and a deep depression.

Leahy doesn’t think he is an anomaly in our culture.  “There’s nothing shocking about my story. The shocking thing is that I’m out there talking about it.”

A Message of Hope

The process of restoration in Leahy’s life was a long one, but today his story of addiction and recovery is bringing the issue of pornography in our culture to the forefront.

Ultimately, Leahy seeks to bring college students a message of hope, a message about how God forgives and redeems our past and removes the root of our sin. Leahy told students at the University of Tampa,

“[I want them] to seek truth in their lives, I have a spiritual message to share. Many people have a faulty belief system and they believe things that are not true about themselves or their world or their relationships. More than anything I want students to be looking for the myths and be looking for the lies and to focus on learning the truth.”

Read more about the Porn Nation tour: