I was a teenager in the LDS church in the late 70s and 80s. My parents never had “the talk” with me or told me anything about human sexuality. We didn’t own a TV and I was pretty sheltered. So basically my introduction to human sexuality was from my bishop interviews. When I was 14, my bishop asked me in an interview if I masturbated? I had never heard that word before but I could tell from the way he asked the question that the answer should be no.. I can still remember how scared and nervous and actually horrified I felt having to talk about this to an older man. I turned bright red and started to sweat! I must have looked scared and upset because the bishop said, “I don’t want to embarrass you for what you may or may not know, but I have to find out the answers..”
So he recognized that I was a total innocent but still continued with the questioning. This interview took place in the bishop’s home in an upstairs office/bedroom. I still remember thinking that my dad had driven me here and was waiting in the car outside. It was confusing to me to think that my dad was ok with me being in this situation. The bishop then asked me about petting (what a ridiculous 80’s word..) and if a boy had ever gotten close to me. I just stumbled through the answers and ran the hell out of there as soon as I could.
As soon as I got home I went straight to the dictionary and looked up the words masturbation and petting. While I was disturbed, I was also very curious about what it all meant. My radar was now way up for anything sexual because my bishop had shown me there was a lot I didn’t know. And obviously it was exciting stuff because he had introduced it that way. I was actually very curious to learn about and try everything! I started looking for books in the library about romance and sex so i could learn what was what! As I got older and knew more I still hated going to interviews.
The bishop would get way more specific and ask if boys had touched my breasts or touched me between my legs. It was literally a how to guide of what to do! Being older I wasn’t scared anymore and my friends and I would laugh at how ridiculous it was. One bishop asked my 16 year old friend if she wore tampons and if she did, did she enjoy the feeling! Because that was wrong! We all just died! And wrote about it in our diaries. We laughed, but I always swore if I had girls I would never send them into that situation the way my dad and mom did, innocently I’m sure, but still. I ended up having only boys but I still felt the same.
My oldest son was so rattled and disturbed by bishop interviews when he was a teen that he would have panic attacks. I finally told him to stop going and he eventually stopped going to church altogether. My second son was more laid back and had no problem going. When I would ask him how the interview went he would joke, “Well, mom, all they wanted to talk about was my penis, not whether I was a good person or what I was doing..” He just dismissed it. I have one last young teenage son and I have not let him go to any interviews yet. I find attending church overall to by hyper sexualized. You wake up Sunday morning thinking happy Sunday thoughts and then you go to church and are bombarded by topics such as pornography (they are obsessed with this), immorality, adultery, sin, immodesty, the evils of same sex attraction, etc.. You are better off just going to brunch and being peaceful. I’ll be marching..!