When I was 12, our bishop was the type that liked to focus on sins and really make sure someone is pure. I was innocent and inexperienced, and I took pleasure in knowing that I could honestly answer all of the questions correctly. I also found the interviews to be very educational — he always had detailed answers for my inquiries on what “masturbation” and “petting” were. I wanted to stay pure, so I made sure I never did anything prohibited.
My period of (very mild) rebellion started when I was 19 and mostly consisted of making out with as many guys as I could. Being worthy for the temple was important to me, so I made sure not to do anything serious, though I got as close to the line as possible. I left these encounters with some guilt and consequently ended up in uncomfortable “confession” interviews with the bishop a few times. I now realize I mostly confessed to things I did not actually do. They were things the guys had done to me, which I hadn’t successfully stopped. I had no idea what the difference was between doing something and having something done to me. It was my fault, my sin, if I didn’t stop it from happening. And no bishop ever told me that it wasn’t necessary to confess someone else’s sins.
I have now been married for nine years. Our sex life struggles, and I have to think it’s related to all the years of guilt, repression, and feeling responsible for someone else’s sexuality. I am anxious about my children growing up in this construct — I just don’t want them to go through the pain I have gone through. And I know it can be so much worse.