I first learned about masturbation when I turned eleven, from my bishop, who happened to be my dad. He had a private talk with me in my bedroom one evening and in a very delicate way, he told me that some people massage their own privates for pleasure. After explaining what it was, he warned me to never do it. He told me it was a serious sin and that he knows many people that have had their lives screwed up because of it.
I love my dad and I don’t fault him for wanting to warn me about something he felt was harmful, but he inadvertently planted the idea in my head to do it. Not that I wouldn’t have figured it out on my own, but I just thought it was ironic that his warning was actually an instruction manual for what it was and how to do it. I tried it a few months later.
Once I started I could not go two days without doing it. I wanted to stop, but I couldn’t. The urges were too strong. Fast forward to my twelfth birthday and I was scheduled to meet with the bishop for my worthiness interview. My dad was released a few months earlier so my interview was with the new bishop. Before that day my older brother teased me that I would have to tell him I masturbate (my brother knew I did it because he had caught me once). I was terrified to share that with the bishop, so I lied.
I lied to God! I hated myself! I was so ashamed of my secret that I became clinically depressed. One day I made a noose and hung it from the framing in our unfinished basement. I put the noose around my neck and tried to work up enough courage to hang myself. I was unworthy. I was worthless. My life didn’t matter. As I contemplated my own death my mom came around the corner and caught me.
As a result I spent a week in a mental hospital to fix my suicidal thoughts. I met some kids in there that had some serious issues, and I think my biggest take away from that hospital was that my problems weren’t as bad as I thought.
Several months later I was alone on a walk with my best friend at scout camp. I am not sure how we got on the subject, but I asked him if he masturbated. He denied it at first but after I told him I did he eventually admitted to it. Having that confidant throughout the rest of my adolescence was a godsend. It helped remove a lot of shame knowing I was not alone. It helped a lot!
I still feared the bishops interviews and was terrified of the questions I would be asked. I could tell more stories, but I will leave it at that.
Recently my son turned twelve and I let him be alone with the bishop for his worthiness interview. I thought he’d be safe. I was wrong.
After the interview the bishop came out and invited me in. As I walked in, my son looked like he was in trouble. He looked straight forward at the wall with a look on his face that I had never seen before. I remember feeling the tension in the room.
The bishop had me sit down and he told me that my son was found worthy (He passed!), and would be ordained a deacon on Sunday. As we worked out the details I glanced over at my son and he still had that odd, almost horrified, look on his face.
I love that bishop. I really do. However, the questions he was required to ask traumatized my sweet little boy that night. I NEVER WANT TO SEE HIM, OR ANY OF MY KIDS, SUBJECTED TO THAT LINE OF QUESTIONING AGAIN!
It’s not appropriate. It’s not of God.
I know from my own personal experience that it doesn’t stop kids from doing it. In fact, I can attest that it does the opposite if anything. Shame is not an effective motivator. Shame is a tool of evil, not good.
By the way, I did stop masturbating eventually. After decades of self loathing I finally let go of the shame through a spiritual awakening of sorts, and as a result the compulsive masturbation was no longer a thing. I have not done it in several years.