I would’ve been 14 when I first found out that viewing pornography and masturbating were “sins.” I told my bishop and he encouraged me to tell my parents so I either told my mom or she found out, I don’t remember which. For the next 7 years though, I was trying my damnedest to keep myself from doing what is natural and healthy. For the next 7 years, I had extreme shame and guilt and on each Sunday I would get embarrassed when the deacon would come by with the bread and water trays and I had to wave him along as everyone else in my family took the sacrament. For the next 7 years, I would only be truly happy when I had gone a week or more without a “relapse.” Every Sunday for the next 7 years I would attend an Alcoholics Anonymous-type class for people like me who had a “pornography addiction.” For the next 7 years I would seek therapy for my addiction and the depression that came with it. For the next 7 years, I would feel suicidal every day because I couldn’t control myself enough to abstain.
To this day I still have depression and suicidal ideation. To this day I’m still too hard on myself. To this day I wonder how different my life would’ve been if I hadn’t been put through this process. Would I’ve been more confident? A nicer person? More giving? Better overall?
I felt dirty and like God hated me. After 4 months of “being clean,” I had a relapse and with it came extreme guilt. So extreme that that same night I wrote a suicide note. During all of this, I was struggling to understand my sexuality and I had added shame and guilt for acting out on my “homosexual urges.” My bishop tried his best to help and from what I remember his questions were as appropriate as the situation could allow. Even so – the retribution I received for doing a natural act and the negative emotions I inflicted upon myself are something no child should have to deal with. I had a good, fun relationship with this man before he became bishop but whenever I think of how the LDS church has hurt me, and I need a face to put all of this on, his is the one I see. To this day I still kind of hate the guy for doing what he was told to do.
My story is more mild compared to others. I was lucky but there’re others who weren’t and who are not today. The way these worthiness interviews are conducted needs to be changed. These untrained middle-aged men with no background checks shouldn’t be allowed to ask sexually explicit questions to minors. No child should have to endure the emotional pain myself and others have endured.