When I was twelve I started having yearly bishop interviews where he would ask me questions about keeping the commandments and if I was following the church rules. The door was always closed and the main focus was always on the sexual questions. He would breeze past most of the questions, but would spend the most time on the sexual questions, and would push for information that I was much too young to understand.
I remember the feeling of being guilty, even though I had never heard of things like “necking” or “petting”, and had certainly never done them. I felt like they were very bad things and he seemed to be sure that I had done them or wanted to. I felt heat in my chest and face when he would ask those questions and my throat would tighten up when I answered.
After the awkwardness of the first interview, I became completely obsessed with finding out what those things were, and would ask anyone who I didn’t think would tell my parents or get me in trouble. That obsession prematurely robbed me of some of my most innocent years. Years later when I was dating, I experimented mildly with a boyfriend and dreaded the day that the bishop would ask me what happened.
When the day came, I was in his office with the door closed (like always), and he started to ask me questions. I told him I had done “light petting” and he came out from behind his desk, pulled up a chair close to me and asked me questions like “did you do anything else with him? Did you enjoy it? Do you want to do it again?”
At some point I remember him putting his hand on my knee and telling me I did the right thing by telling him. And then he called my house every week for the next few months to check on me and see if I wanted to talk again. My mom was very concerned with this, but not because of the fact that a grown adult man was calling her 16 year old daughter, but because she wanted to know what bad things I had done to get the bishop so involved. I regretted telling him because of how much trouble it was causing me at home and how painfully uncomfortable and traumatic it was to endure the interview, and I felt so much shame and embarrassment. I have spent my entire adult life trying to let go of the guilt and shame I’ve had about sex and sexual desires.