To preface my experiences-I am an active male member of the church and am currently in my thirties. I have a strong testimony concerning the gospel and it’s doctrine. I developed a strong testimony of Joseph Smith and the restoration in my youth which then helped me develop an unshakable testimony in my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I served a mission and am proud to be LDS. That being said, I believe whole-heartedly that we do a large disservice, specifically to our youth, by allowing volunteer leaders who have no professional training (or even parental consent) to ask direct explicit questions about sexuality. I was 14 when I actually understood that masturbation was bad. I felt terrible and the weight of godly sorrow bore down on me. I went to my bishop to discuss it. He asked me not to take the sacrament until he felt I was ready, which ended up lasting 3 weeks. I felt shamed and I thought I did what was right by approaching him and letting him know the moment I could. Didn’t I already go through the repentance process and prayed for forgiveness and now some strange man is making me feel shame publicly???
When I was 16 I was again asked by the new bishop if I masturbated. At this point I knew it was bad, but I did have slip ups here and there, but the question made me struggle internally. I had before, and sometimes I slipped up, but it had been 7 months since the last time so I said no. He seemed disappointed with my answer and seemed to assume I did and was lying to him, bringing in more awkwardness, shame and tension. I determined at this point, at age 16, that I wasn’t going to subject myself to weird judgement by this new bishop I hardly knew who presumed he knew better, so my relationship with him was strained.
It happened again when I left my family ward to the local singles ward. I was excited to go and experience the singles ward lifestyle. The first Sunday the bishop asked if we could meet. I was excited and full of energy to get involved. He seemed to breeze through initial questions quickly and very sternly and serislously asked directly if I masturbated. My excitement and energy to be part of his congregation deflated immediately. I said I had in the past but am not actively doing it. That seemed to satisfy whatever thought process he had but it made me feel like I was being interrogated, shamed and held at knife point. He then asked me when the last time I did it was….. ok… I told him a few months since my last slip up. He then continued by asking directly if I looked at porn while I masturbated in the past….. What!!! I never had issues with porn. I was taken aback and didn’t know how to answer because it came at such a surprise. I said no. He then continued by saying that most people masturbated while viewing porn, so it was pretty uncommon if I hadn’t…. Was he trying to get me to confess to something I was not guilty of or groom me to combine the two next time I slipped up?!!! Nu Uh Bishop, your chance with me being part of your ward flew out the door along with my respect for you… but thanks for educating me that I was not masturbating correctly… I never went back to that ward as I couldn’t allow myself to be guided spiritually by such a person.
I fortunately somehow made it through life and married in the temple and have beautiful kids, but you better believe the first thing I’ll be doing with any bishop the moment my kids get old enough is to tell him to butt out of sexually explicit questions and keep to to the law of Chastity as it should be. I’ll be the one teaching them what chastity means thank you very much. I just hope by then the leadership packets will actually give direct mandates to not ask explicit questions outside the temple questions.