I was asked as a young man by my bishop if I had a problem with masturbation. I really didn’t know what it meant and had never done it or even knew it was a thing until I was asked by him, who was also a family friend. As I matured I still did not do it but felt a lot of unnecessary guilt even for just touching myself and felt I needed to lie to this bishop/family friend about this normal teenage behavior to save myself from embarrassment. I feel this was very inappropriate and caused me huge amounts of anxiety and guilt for probably 10-12 years. I never felt worthy, even though I wasn’t actually doing it. Later in my young adulthood when I actually did do it once in a while, I still felt the need to lie about it even when asked the vague “Do you keep the law of chastity” I took that to include “Do you masturbate”. Bishops interviews were the only time in my life where I would lie. I had no idea how normal it was for young men until after my mission where it was talked about openly among my friends. I still never admitted to it or confessed it.
I eventually couldn’t stand the guilt and confessed it to a bishop at the age of 24. This guy was an incredible man who told me it was normal, that virtually every guy does it and to not feel guilt, shame or unworthiness and to not feel the need to ever confess it. This changed everything for me. No more shame or guilt, all because of one great bishop. Every young man in the Church deserves to hear this from a priesthood leader they look up to. I am so glad my young son will not have the same experience that I did.
Church leaders, please use your positions to do the right thing by clarifying this policy and ending inappropriate questions.