My (now adult) son suffered public shaming as a teenager because he was honest in his interviews with the bishop when asked if he masturbated. Numerous times after being ordained a priest (age 16) and having been called in for a worthiness interview with the bishop, my son would be told he couldn’t administer the sacrament (bread and water) with the other boys his age, nor could he take the sacrament himself for weeks at a time. What the priests, boys aged 16- 17, do to administer the sacrament is highly visible to the congregation since they sit on the stand at the front of the chapel.
To make it worse, our ward had very few boys that age, and my son was well known among the congregants. Whenever he had been deemed unworthy in one of his bishop’s interviews (always because he had been asked about masturbation, and always because he answered honestly) he would have to sit in the pews on Sundays for week after week with my husband and me, not in front with his peers and not taking the sacrament, both highly visible public consequences. In essence, my kind, wonderful son was publicly SHAMED, all for confessing to a normal human behavior he never should have been asked about to begin with by an adult man behind a closed door, a man he had been taught was an authority figure. I remember sitting next to my son on those awful Sundays, seeing his bent back as he leaned forward with his head hanging down between his arms resting on his knees, trying to be invisible.
This mental image has became a symbol for me of how morally wrong and damaging is this practice of taking children behind closed doors one-on-one with grown men to be questioned about their sexual thoughts and behavior. One of my greatest regrets is that I didn’t see this sooner and put a stop to it. I now understand that I had been conditioned since my own childhood to see this horrible practice as normal, otherwise I never would have subjected my child to it. As of this writing, my mid-twenties son has experienced severe anxiety, depression, difficulty in relationships, sexual shame, and suicidal ideations as a result of his repeated public shaming as a teenager following closed-door bishop’s interviews. This practice needs to stop today!