I grew up very active in the church and quite believing. I tried to do everything right. To the outside I was a model member, seemingly obeying the commandments, being an excellent student and also excelling in athletics. But starting at puberty there was one habit that I struggled with: masturbation.
I loathed myself for this. I became more and more devoted to the church and god, in trying to shake this habit. I felt so ashamed and hated myself for not being able to stop this behavior. I was so scared and ashamed that I never told my bishop, but I felt like dying every time after I lied in a bishop’s interview. Despite all my outward accomplishments I became rather shy, introverted, and completely devoid of self confidence. People liked being around me and enjoyed my personality, but I didn’t have any good friends because I was too scared to ask anyone to hang out, even people who had asked me previously. I can safely say most of this self perception came from the teachings on masturbation and the interview process. Yes, genetics and/or other environmental factors play a role, but this specific issue, and the magnitude of the response of the church was a major driving factor in my self-hatred.
I’ve since learned that it was normal behavior. But the shame drove it underground until it did become a problem in my life. Now that I’m grown and the habit isn’t an issue the truth is that the self loathing and shame response are still major issues for me. I struggle continually with depression, shame, guilt, perfectionism, and haven’t been able to make progress on these fronts.
Please, I implore you, don’t put children in the position I was in. Please don’t make them do these worthiness interviews. At the very least stop making it okay for an adult male to ask my daughters about their sexuality. Give them time to grow into the ideals you’re teaching them.