My mother was inactive LDS growing up. My dad was of another faith. I didn’t go to church often, but would at times go play basketball with neighborhood friends who were LDS. At one of these shootarounds when I was thirteen, I was pulled into the bishop’s office without either of my parent’s consent or knowledge. What was initially a friendly, “How are you doing” conversation quickly turned into an impromptu worthiness interview. The bishop asked if I masturbated and how often. I didn’t even know what that meant at the time. He described it in graphic detail and told me that grown men often do it too, sometimes in the tub or bed. He asked me repeatedly to confess to it and wasn’t going to allow me to leave until I did. I was sick with shame and uncomfortable. Eventually, I got up and left, running home. I never told my parents about what happened.
I didn’t enter a church building again for several years. A kind, compassionate bishop got me involved in the church (he did not interrogate me with sexual questions). He convinced me to serve a mission. Over the years, this tale of two bishops has repeated itself. Some bishops are horrifically invasive and demand graphic details while others exercise compassion and decorum. There seems to be no protocol or training for how to conduct these interviews. The shame and confusion I endured as a youth and young adult resulted in depression, suicidal ideation, self-loathing (as I never felt worthy of happiness), and sexual dysfunction after marriage. I will never allow my children to be subjected to such interviews behind closed doors with untrained clergy. Their lives are too sacred to gamble with.