I started masturbating at age 13 or so. When I was first masturbating, I don’t think I even knew what I was really doing, let alone the idea that I was ‘sinning’. Shortly after, I realized/learned that it was a sin, and between bishopric changes, and ward splits, etc. I ended up having four different bishops throughout my teenage years. I would be truthful and respond “no” when I was asked if I obeyed the law of chastity in interviews. As I remember it, at least 3 out of the 4 bishops asked a follow-up question specifically about masturbation. If memory serves, at least one of them (maybe two of them) asked if I ‘climaxed’. I cannot overestimate how upsetting and taxing (both spiritually AND mentally) the pain, the anguish, and the torment was for me. Constantly bouncing back and worth between worthiness and unworthiness, knowing that my leaders for the most part knew exactly what I was doing, was hard for me to deal with on many levels.
I very clearly remember one time in the wee hours of the morning in my kitchen, when I was 15 or so, where I actually held a large kitchen knife up to my wrist. I remember feeling a ‘rush’ of emotion when I did that. It was the first time in a couple of years that I had really felt alive, since starting to ‘struggle’ with masturbation. I remember thinking that I didn’t want my parents/family to have to clean up the mess from all of my blood pooling all over the floor. So I thought maybe I could get up on the counter and have my blood from my wrist drain into the sink (I felt it would be a little more dignified, as there wouldn’t be a mess to clean up). Luckily the ‘heat of the moment’ passed, and I went to bed. Thinking back, I don’t think I actually would have done it, but I clearly remember thinking that not existing at all anymore would certainly be better than existing as a chronic masturbator.
I am finally, at age 31, getting mental help via therapy to hopefully deal with this emotional baggage, baggage that I now believe I have been carrying unnecessarily for nearly two thirds of my life. I hope and pray that the church will issue official instructions/updates to ecclesiastical interviews, stating that the details of chastity-related sin is not necessary. The way I see it, the leader may need to know if a law-of-chastity ‘issue’ involved a crime of any kind or not (especially if abuse was involved,not ‘self-abuse’ though Elder Callister…) , they may need to know if it involved another person/persons or not, and if it did, they may perhaps need to know what ‘base’ the ward member made it to, but past that no other details are needed.
The details must stop. I think that we are the last church (of our size or larger) that still does this practice of one-on-one private interviews, which carries the potential for damaging, detailed, intimate questioning, and it is just not necessary. It never was necessary, and it should stop.