As a young man I felt incredibly guilty about masturbation. I felt like I was the only one with this “sin” and that it made me a horrible person. The Bishop interviews were humiliating and I found myself lying so that I could progress through the ranks of deacon, teacher, priest -like the other kids.
When I was 15 I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. I never told anybody, but I thought that God gave me the disease as a punishment for masturbation. I thought that maybe God would heal me if I promised to stop and never did it again. I could go a few months at a time, but couldn’t ever “cure” myself, so the Diabetes was a permanent reminder to me of my sinful nature.
When preparing for a mission, the interview questions for worthiness got more specific, and probing. I fessed up to my “problem” and worked through the Bishop and Stake President extensively before I could send in my missionary paperwork. I received my mission call, I bought all of my mission suits and supplies, I gave a talk in Sacrament Meeting to say goodbye to my local congregation. Then I was overcome with guilt and confessed that I had “slipped up”. My mission got pushed off for 6 months. I had to face the people I’d said goodbye to and vaguely tell them that I was still going on a mission, but it was just delayed. Sometimes they asked more questions and I could only respond with shameful silence and vague acknowledgements. I still couldn’t “abstain” completely, so I ended up lying again so that my shame and misery could end. So that I could serve God.
I was married in the Temple. Sex was now supposed to be okay, but it was such a drastic change. We did our best to make it work well, but it was awkward. It took many years to develop our sexuality. It took many years before we were bold enough to try sex toys which was the best thing for our sex lives. We still haven’t resolved all of the damage from sexual shame and guilt, but we are working through it.
We left the Church, for doctrinal reasons, but one reason was to protect our children from growing up in what we see now as a harmful environment for sexual development.