As a teen, I remember being asked if I masturbated in bishop interviews and these questions continued through the mission, my years at BYU, and singles wards after. I became accustomed to the questions and feared every invitation to meet with the bishop, suspecting I would again be asked. In my youth, I lied about my habits since the bishop was close friends with my parents and I couldn’t bring myself to confess. This led to feelings of guilt for not being honest with the bishop and in essence with god. I never had spiritual experiences others would testify about and I thought that my sins were the reason I did not feel the spirit. As a missionary, I felt like I was not an effective missionary due to my past sins and occasional slip of masturbation. I hated the interviews with the mission president for this reason. Following the mission, some bishops were more understanding and less concerned than others. I never felt good in the temple and again thought this was due to my sins. In interviews prior to marriage, when asked about chastity, my wife to be and I confessed to having done some petting and agreed to stop. As young adults, we were unable to keep our hands off of each other. In our last interview, we lied about having not touched each other in the weeks leading up to the wedding date. I again felt bad about going to the temple unworthy. As a father, I felt continued guilt and never felt comfortable blessing my children, etc. feeling I had never been forgiven of my sins for having gone to the temple unworthily.
I now see this questioning as totally unnecessary and harmful. There is no reason to shame and guilt children or adults for what is normal behaviour. It has had a lasting impact on me that I am just now able to get over. I am in my 50’s and allowed my children to be asked these questions under the belief that it was what god required and if I was able to survive the questions then they would too. I’ve since talked with my children and thankfully they state they were not questioned as youth and do not feel harmed. I hope this is the case and that they are not saying that to protect me from the anger I feel. I know a young man that committed suicide who was a friend of my oldest son and was in our ward. He was a kind kid and it breaks my heart that he took his life. He was gay and had beautiful artistic abilities and was studying art. I’m certain the teachings of the church and the hard stance his father took lead to his decision to end his life. The shaming involved in interviews, and willingness to not accept people as who they are must stop.