I remember being really nervous at bishops interviews as a youth because the prevailing belief was that bishops could ask ANY question they wanted because they were Gods’ representative and inspired and therefore refusing was considered rebelling against God. I. along with all my friends, dreaded those interviews. When asked if I had a problem with masturbation, I would say that I did not. Not because I hadn’t done it; I could do it just fine. I felt it just wasn’t a big enough problem to bring up and get reprimanded for. My church youth lessons, it seemed, were often about sexual purity and sexual sinning being next to murder, etc. My youth interviews were not as horrible as some of my adult interviews.
Since then, some of my Bishops and stake leaders have asked some really inappropriate things which I will list just a few here;
When I got married, my stake president made me promise to him that I would keep my covenant to wear my garments night and day even for intimate times with my wife on our honeymoon. ( I promised but felt guilty because I never kept the promise). He told me that he and his wife wear their garments even when they shower!
I lived across the street from a bishop in Utah and on Saturdays in the summer I would put-on my swimsuit to wash the car and play with the hose with my kids. That bishop told me I was breaking my temple covenants and I needed to wear my garments when I do that.
In about 1981, I was asked in a temple interview if I participated in “oral sex or any other unholy or impure practice”. That was an official legitimate question in the handbook for about 6 months and then removed.
During another recommend interview in 2012, my bishop asked if I kept the law of chastity to which I affirmed that I did. He followed with, “When was the last time you masturbated, and the time before that, and the time before that?” I was stunned at his question. I said why are you asking me this? (I was 57 years old at the time.) He told me that he was the bishop and entitled to know that information. He also said that everyone in the ward now gets asked this question in temple interviews. I told him that I would answer all of the official questions but not his additional questions. He said that if I didn’t answer, I would not get a recommend. “Then,” I said, “I’ll just wait until that question is removed.” I told him that I expected that it might take about 6 months for that question to be removed just like the oral sex question from 1981.
I then went to the stake president to complain but was told that that question was going to be asked in every recommend interview in our stake at the direction and approval of the Area Authority Seventy. I was incredulous and left his office saying again that I would wait until the question was removed just as I said to the bishop
A month later, the bishop called me into his office during Sunday school and asked if I was ready to get my recommend. I thought he had decided not to ask that question again, so I sat for an interview. But, again, after the chastity question he asked “When was the last time you masturbated, and the time before that and the time before that? And again, thinking it was none of his business, I declined to answer and left his office.
About another month later while I was helping prepare the sacrament before Sacrament meeting, the Bishop asked me into his office to see if I would like to renew my recommend. Again, he asked the same question and when I refused the third time he said that since I refused to confess he would have to restrict me from praying in church, preparing the sacrament, home teaching, and leading the singing (because he didn’t know what I might be thinking about the women in the congregation while I was leading the singing). It felt like I was back in the Spanish Inquisition and it was his job to MAKE me confess or else! By the way, this bishop was also an attorney; a sex crimes prosecutor, so I suppose that he was using the same tactics in the ward as he used at his job as sex crimes prosecutor.
I wrote to a member of the Seventy who I had befriended many years earlier and was over my geographical area and told him about what I considered inappropriate questions by my bishop and stake president. Soon thereafter, that Seventy happened to came to my city and met with my stake president who then informed me that I could now get my recommend without answering that question and I should make the appointment with my bishop.
A few days later, I met with the bishop, but to my utter amazement, for the 4th time, the Bishop asked the same question again! He demanded that HE WAS THE BISHOP and HAD to know this to see if I was worthy!! Well, we argued for about 10 minutes, but I left with a recommend. The stake president gave up his requirement to know.
Now when I am asked if I sustain my local leaders, I say “yes, I do, just like I sustain an injury or a headache. I suffer from or endure the burden of some local leaders.”