Growing up LDS, you are taught that sexual sins are one of the worst sins a person can commit, right below murder. When I realized at the age of 12 that by masturbating, I was almost as evil as a murderer, I was filled with so much shame. I was so filthy. I was worse than a liar, a thief, a bully, an abuser, or a drug addict. I felt disgusting and so immensely ashamed of myself.
I couldn’t live with myself because I kept doing this disgusting and horrible habit. I also never wanted anyone to know I would do such an awful, terrible thing. I didn’t want my bishop to know, and if I told him, he might tell my parents, and I definitely didn’t want them finding out their daughter was a filthy sinner. I would rather die than have anyone ever find out about it. And so, at 13, I tried to kill myself so that I could be in heaven and my terrible secret would die with me.
Thankfully, I didn’t actually know how to kill myself, so none of those attempts did any real physical damage. I struggled with depression and self esteem throughout my entire teenage years. I eventually developed other issues because of home and school, but the shame of masturbation was the main trigger of all my issues, and the shame still haunted me until I was 19 years old.
The fact that I could not fully participate in the church I believed was true without telling an older man about my personal sexual habits that I was so deeply ashamed of was very upsetting. The culture of shaming children for exploring a natural part of themselves is so harmful, and the practice of being required to disclose all of that very personal information in order to be forgiven and clean creates so much fear and shame.
At its heart, I believe the church is a religion based on love, forgiveness, and family, not shame, guilt, and condemnation. This needs to stop.