I grew up in an inactive household. I was still baptized at eight. Never having been to church before or after that until the age of fourteen. I naturally discovered masturbation at the age of ten. It never felt wrong to me. Having not gone to church.
When I turned fourteen I moved out and lived with my uncle. I was encouraged to take seminary classes in high school. I am thankful for those classes because I gained truly caring and loving friends. Something I never had my whole childhood.
I decided to go on a mission. This is when i had my first interview. When my bishop asked me if i kept the law of chastity I said yes. I had no idea at the time that masturbation was part of that. The next interview was with my stake president. He asked me “Brother do you have any problem with masturbation?”. I felt instantly cornered. I said no and we moved along. After the interview I felt guilty and angry. I was angry at myself for not knowing that for the past nine years I was stamping my own ticket to hell.
I still went on my mission and managed to stop masturbation for a time. Every interview i had with my mission president he would ask me that same question. By the end of my mission I was no longer angry at myself. I was angry at the men who felt they needed to ask me the same question repeatedly. I felt i was never hurting anyone by doing what came naturally to me as a growing young man.
After my mission when I was engaged to my wife. We sat down with her bishop and he gave us a well rehearsed speech. About how women are like crockpots and men are like microwaves. From that point on our whole engagement was about not being alone together. Not spending personal time with the woman that I want to spend the rest of my life with. Bumping up our wedding day so we can be together alone.
The fact is that by making sex and anything related to it taboo. You make that the central focus of a teenagers life. You make children feel like shameful sinners from the start of their progress into adulthood. Being a father now I will never allow my children to be asked these questions. I will never make them feel ashamed of who they are or what they are doing. If what they are doing is a part of being young.
Stop manipulating young people’s emotions! Stop manufacturing guilt!