I had grown up in the church from about age 9 but had not been baptized yet. My mother was not LDS but I lived with my father and step mother and attended church every Sunday or else we were grounded for the following week. I was an inquisitive child and asked “why” way too often for the churches taste.
As I approached 16, a heavy push began to get my agreement to be baptized and after having a missionary stand over me and angrily say that the battle lines were being drawn and I don’t want to be with Satan, I relented and agreed to the baptism. The first embarrassment happened in an interview with some missionaries who asked me in a small room alone if I had ever masturbated in my lifetime. As a 15 year old boy, the answer was obviously “yes” but the question caught me off guard and I panicked and said no I have never. They seemed pleased with the answer and moved on.
I was trying to take it seriously and the guilt of having just lied to a missionary was weighing on me although not as much as the secret I was carrying inside. When I was 14, an older girl from church was babysitting for my brother and sister while my parents were away and I had come home from school and found myself alone with her as my siblings were asleep. The older girl was paying a lot of attention to me and eventually talked me into my room where we engaged in oral sex. It was my first time. I was confused and fascinated by what had happened but I did not feel damaged. It was a one time thing and I guess I was just moving on with my young life.
As my baptism day passed, I was overwhelmed with guilt over omitting the experiences I had had in the pre-baptism interview and a few weeks later made an appointment with the bishop to confess my sins. I was nervous but desperately wanting some relief from the guilt I felt and went in to discuss this with the bishop. Our bishop was the father of triplets who I had grown up with and went to school with and felt comfortable speaking with him at first. I explained what had occurred years prior and about the fact that I had indeed masturbated previously.
What happened next was a shock that resonated so deeply that to this day I can still feel myself in that chair feeling like I was sinking into the floor, or at least wishing I would. The bishop kept pushing for more detail on the story. Down to which hands she touched me with, if I was aroused before or she after she touched me there. How long it lasted, where I touched her, how she disposed of the fluids etc.. then on to what I thought about when I masturbated, what turned me on…. the conversation lasted for well over an hour. I was crying through the whole thing but was incredibly uncomfortable with the language I was being pushed to use.
He was telling me that Jesus wanted to know these things and I had to keep answering his questions. I felt like I was broken. I felt like a damaged human being who was not normal and was some kind of deviant. It was not until my 30s that I let some of the shame go but to this day I still have this small feeling inside that I am not a good man. I have raised 2 children with the youngest being 15. Both are great kids that I love immensely who I have had serious discussions with about sexuality and how the urges are normal and not shameful.
I never set foot in a church again following that confession as the shame felt like a bright neon sign over my head. It didn’t help that the bishop called the girls parents and reported what we had done causing an unrecoverable social nightmare in church. My dad and step mom are still members and are disappointed that I have left the church but they still love me. It is hard to reconcile the fact that they were responsible for pushing me down this road and defended the bishops behavior.
I was actually kicked out of the house shortly after at 16 years of age and lived with non Mormon friends whose parents took me in to finish high school. Someone in a position of power such as a bishop using that influence to permanently damage young children is a huge shameful mark on a church with a vast history of shameful marks. I am so happy to see this petition and I wish everyone health and happiness and respect the efforts happening here. Thank you.