Society

Fighting porn addiction in the military: A chaplain takes up (spiritual) arms

In addition to the danger to one's spiritual life, porn use often leads to adultery and divorce

A military chaplain is taking up spiritual arms against pornography addictions affecting our troops, using a “Smartpack” designed by an anti-porn counselor and a non-profit founded by Catholic service members.

“I am an Air Guard Chaplain, as well as a seminary professor/formation director,” Father Rory Pitstick, who has been a chaplain for five years and teaches at Mt. Angel Seminary, told Aleteia in an e-mail. “Porn is a major problem among both groups I serve.”

The Smartpack was created with troops in mind, compact and practical. Dr. Peter Kleponis, founder of Integrity Restored, had a hand in designing it.

He described the Smartpack as an effort “to help Catholic chaplains to help military personnel who may be struggling with pornography.”

“We talk about why pornography is harmful, what God and the Church say about pornography, and then we talk about how to protect yourself from pornography. Finally, we talk about what you can do if you find yourself struggling with pornography addiction, what are the resources out there, what can you do to rid yourself of this,” he said.

Kleponis explained that the Smartpack includes an eight-page document that points to “what life without pornography looks like and how there is a lot of freedom in that.”

Father Pitstick told Aleteia how he sees pornography affecting the men and women he serves. He explained that “almost always, porn use leads to a downward spiral damaging to all relationships; certainly adultery and divorce are common consequences. I have definitely seen an increase in use of porn by Airmen, or perhaps, at least a greater percentage of Airmen willing to admit to use, and at least vaguely aware of concomitant problems and thus with some desire to end their use.”

Causes of porn use vary, according to the priest, and include but are not limited to stressors such as family separation, seeing comrades die in battle, and the pressures of a high numbers of tours and often short breaks between. Technology, though, is the biggest culprit:

“Airmen point to various stressors,” he said, “… however, the immediate availability, through any internet device, is clearly the central factor.”

Air Force Advocate General Ken Artz, a developer of the Smartpack who has provided legal advice on “family issues” to service members and has been involved in the prosecution of service members for charges related to child pornography, domestic abuse and sexual assault, told Catholic Exchange that he has seen causational and correlational links between these end points and prior use of porn.

Dr. Kleponis explained why porn affects more than the user: “As with any addiction, a tolerance develops. After a while, looking at this stuff doesn’t do it for you anymore. It’s no longer satisfying. So this is where men may want to go out and really act on it. This is where men end up going to strip clubs and prostitutes and so forth.”

Like Artz, Kleponis said pornography hurts the marriages of military service members. He also described damage “to one’s spiritual life, one’s relationship with God. This is a mortal sin.”

Marine Captain Jerome Lademan, another developer of the Smartpack, is himself no stranger to the effects of pornography. In his lengthy interview with Catholic Exchange, he detailed a long-term personal struggle with addiction:

“I was in a serious relationship a few years ago that I ended up breaking off,” he explained. “One of the main reasons was the pain I was causing because of my addiction. I did some soul searching and realized that I had to do something….

According to Lademan, he will “go through periods where I will watch [porn] every day for a few weeks on end, and then for a few months where I don’t watch at all.”

Despite his struggle, Lademan says his faith gives him hope for overcoming the desire for porn. “It is the beginning, the end and the means of my struggle. The end, love of God, is why I have to get free of it, the beginning, since grace and the moral imperative of being a man of God are what I have to lean on to start the process over again when I fall, and the means because I can’t do anything without grace.”

Lademan told The Stream that “something has to be done about” porn, “especially for our troops. To fight porn is to fight sexual exploitation. Because this is exactly what pornography is.”

Editor’s Note: Lademan and Artz spoke on the condition that their commentary represented themselves and the Heroic Virtue Warfare Institute (HVWI) and not the Department of Defense or any other government entities or government employers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Marc Weidenbaum

Dustin Siggins

Dustin Siggins is an associate editor for The Stream, and a public relations consultant. He previously was the PR director and DC correspondent for LIfeSiteNews. He has been published across the political spectrum, and has appeared on numerous local and national radio and TV programs.