I love the church so much. I really really do. And it is because I love the church so much that I am supporting this cause.
The experiences shared in these stories are heart wrenching. Adolescents do not need probing into their sexual lives by older men alone in a closed room. The only question that should be asked is, “do you obey the law of chastity.” There should be a parent if possible in the room or another trusted adult. This is for the safety of the bishops as much as it is for those being interviewed.
If a youth has questions about what the law of chastity entails, the only thing that should be clarified is that the law of chastity means no sexual relations outside of marriage and to talk to another trusted adult if they are still curious. It’s good enough inside the temple, it should be good enough in the interviews to get into the temple. We need to end biannual interviews where these men probe into the masturbation schedules of these youth. No “when was the last time you masturbated” inquiries that shame these youth into thinking their natural exploration is “akin to murder” and the most egregious thing one can do. I would wager close to 100% of men and 90% of women have pleasured themselves in their lives. Enough is enough.
My experience is nothing like some who were molested behind closed doors or were raped or assaulted and then blamed for it for letting it happen. We need immediate training for bishops about how to handle worthiness interviews and how to recognize abuse. I’m not saying there shouldn’t be an interview to get into the temple or receive the priesthood. I’m saying the doors should be left ajar during interviews or there should be another adult in the room and that nothing sexual should be discussed. If there is a heaven or celestial kingdom, 100% of the men in there will have masturbated in their lives. There will be close to zero murderers. This practice is literally killing people and driving away the young men of the church. The only men left in the church are those like me who lied their way through everything rather than be publicly shamed by not being able to partake of or pass the sacrament for something literally every single male has done, including the bishops who condemn these poor children. Woe unto the hypocrite. Or it’s the truly penitent and broken people who confess and have their lives destroyed because they are 16 and told that they shouldn’t masturbate. You can literally get a boner for no reason at that age. It’s just impossible and these kids end up leaving the church or are in constant states of “sobriety” until the hormones level out in the late 20s.
My story is the same as most people, happy kid happy life. Puberty hits and all of a sudden I’m touching myself and it feels awesome. Parents are too sexually repressed to talk about sex openly and there is only two or three times where they ask me if I’m keeping myself pure and that I shouldn’t masturbate. That’s all I get from them. Lessons in church harp that masturbating is akin to murder so the shame festers on the soul every time I “succumb” to temptation. I cry myself to sleep a lot of nights because of the guilt I feel that I cannot control my urges. I lie to the bishop/stake president/mission president every time because I would rather take this “secret” to my grave than take a chance that the bishop is a tight ass and will take away my temple recommend.
I was exposed to porn at 9-10 years old on the family computer. I was terrified my parents would find out and condemn me to hell. I would get anxiety attacks when asked to the bishops office because I knew he would ask if I was jerkin it and I could never muster the courage to confess so I felt even more guilty for lying about it.
Once I was out on my own in college I watched porn 6-7 times a day. At one point I wished that I never woke up just for the misery to end. I contemplated how I would kill myself lots but went on a mission instead. Go figure. I masturbated less frequently as a missionary and didn’t look at any porn so I figured it was a positive step.
I’ve been better at some times than others since being home. My wife asked me before getting married If there was anything I ever has to confess to the bishop. I gave her a pretty vague answer and we got married. I’m happy and I’m pretty sure she is happy so I don’t want to ruin anything by telling her that occasionally I’ll flog the dolphin.
Literally everything the brethren warned would happen if I watched porn and masturbated did not happen. I’m not gay, I am in a loving relationship with my wife and kids, I feel generally optimistic about the future and my eternal standing. I did not need harder and harder porn to get aroused at all. The thought of pedophilia makes my soul tremble with sadness that some kids are violated in that way. I’m not addicted to sex and have a generally healthy sex life with my wife. The only bad consequences they prophesied of it that did come true was the shame and guilt I felt for doing it. Self fulfilling prophecy if you ask me.
Sorry for the rambling. I’m sure my life would have been so much better if I had an adult explain to me what was happening was normal and if there were no sexually explicit questions in those one on one interviews behind closed doors. I hope church leaders can learn to forgive themselves for their sins during their teen years and stop taking it out on the youth of today and set clear standards and provide adequate training for bishops.