It was my first temple trip as a new Beehive. Back then before the Albuquerque temple was built, the nearest temple to my small town in New Mexico was Dallas, Tx. That meant that youth leaders and parents would carpool and we would stay the entire weekend in order to do baptisms for the dead. The week before, all the youth who needed temple recommends lined up outside the bishops and counselors offices for their interviews. It was my first temple recommend.
I walked in and the Bishop shut the door behind us. I didn’t know him very well, because we had just moved into the ward a few months prior after my parents divorced. He began asking questions about my beliefs in Christ and such, to which I answered easily. Then he began lecturing me on virtue and asked flat out if I engaged in masturbation.
Of course I did…It is normal, healthy even for teens and pre-teens to be exploring their bodies as they develop. I was like a deer caught in headlights…It felt so violating to be asked by this old man about touching my vagina. So, I lied and said no. I lied to my bishop because I felt like I was being verbally molested and being asked the question made me feel dirty.
Lying about it made me feel even more dirty. My very first trip to the temple, I felt completely unworthy and because I had lied to my bishop about masturbation, I thought Heavenly Father was going to condemn me. I worried that all the spirits I was doing baptisms for wouldn’t be able to accept the ordinance because it was being done by a dirty, unworthy liar.
How is it okay to put a child in that position? I now have a 13 year old daughter. I am no longer LDS, but my ex-husband is and my daughter chooses to remain LDS. I support her choice, but will go to her bishop before ANY temple recommend interview and forbid any questions about her “virtue”, because that is plain old sexual harassment. It is developmentally inappropriate and it’s just plain creepy! What parent feels good about their child being shut in a room with an old man and have that old man ask probing questions about sex and masturbation? No one should and the LDS church should no longer allow it!
I helped advocate for BYU to change their policy on campus rape reporting and the honor code. I was overjoyed when BYU changed their policy to help the rape victims. I have faith that the good men who read this will listen with the same compassion and open hearts and minds as they used during that decision to change this practice as well.