By Ms Julia Simpkins (TRADOC)January 26, 2012
FORT JACKSON, S.C. -- Last year a group from ChapelNext, a contemporary Protestant congregation met at Bayonet Chapel to figure out how to improve spiritual resiliency at Fort Jackson.
The group agreed that some of the challenges and pressures some Soldiers and their families face are in the form of easily accessible pornography and lack of spiritual understanding. The group attributed those factors to a rise in sexual addiction among troops. This, they said they believe is in part a spiritual issue.
"As we thought about it, we wondered how we could serve the Fort Jackson community," said Chaplain (Maj.) David Bowlus, the lead pastor for ChapelNext and an instructor for the chaplain basic course.
Bowlus and ChapelNext leaders agreed to host a "Call to Purity" conference, which offered Soldiers Bible-based leadership and counseling that will provide principles for dealing with this problem. Professionals from the Army Community Services, students from the Soldier Support Institute, military spouses and a drill sergeant were among the attendees.
Spiritual purity, as defined by Bowlus, is, "living God's best with a life clear of sexual habits that result in pain, deterioration and separation in the person's soul and their relationships."
A recent article in the Army Times said Soldiers "are using cell phones and other digital media to swap sexually explicit images and messages as they conduct relationships... " The article went on to describe a rise in illicit sexual activity among services members, partly as a result of smart phone technology.
"Half of the Internet use is for pornography and it is growing. The rise of porn tends to denigrate our regard for the sanctity of the individual," said Chaplain (Col.) David Colwell, commandant of the U.S. Army Chaplain Center and School. "As access to these images grows, so does our exposure, whether we want it or not. Our thoughts and the thinking of others directly affect the community."
The first of its kind at Fort Jackson, the training had more than 70 participants, which Bowlus considered a sign that the training met a need in the community.
"I really enjoyed the class. It was a great time of fellowship and learning," said Staff Sgt. Robert Brickner, operations noncommissioned officer, Company D, 187th Ordnance Battalion.
"There has been more follow-up after this training on this issue than I've ever seen," he said.
It was so significant, that Bowlus applied for and received a chief of chaplains grant through the chaplain school to host more of these events.
Bowlus said the conference focused on using principles from scriptures and showing Soldiers how to practically apply them to their daily lives.
"It is possible to live a life of sexual purity. In our society, many people have given up on the idea of victory in this area. We want the military to know, first that sexual addiction in all its forms affects you more than you know, and second, that through God's strength, purity can be a reality in your life," Bowlus said. "The consequences of sexual addiction are catastrophic. It destroys families and is one of the biggest detractors to spiritual resiliency."
Bowlus' team from Chapel Next will host another Call to Purity training March 23-24.
"This training is open to all who would like to learn about and begin to experience the reality of purity in every aspect of life. It's worth it. A clear conscience makes a soft pillow," Bowlus said.
To sign up, or for more information email them at firstname.lastname@example.org.