I remember vividly when I was asked by my bishop if I was masturbating. I was a 12 year old girl and he a man in his 40s. I remember just feeling so embarrassed and uncomfortable I couldn’t even look at him. It felt like there was so much emphasis on being pure when I was growing up that if you did ever mess up you just felt horrible.
When I was attending BYU and engaged, I had an interview once a week with my Bishop. (Which isn’t standard when engaged, but it was what the leadership of my particular ward insisted on.) My fiancé and I did struggle to “stay pure” throughout our engagement and I was asked (alone with the Bishop) the details of anything we did together in these weekly interviews.
It was horrible, I dreaded those interviews. I remember becoming so depressed and full of shame week after week. In addition to confessing, I was asked about all sorts of things that I never even thought to do. For example, I was asked if we were being intimate through a webcam. I also learned all about necking, light petting, and heavy petting which I didn’t know about before until this old man was educating me on it.
The process of our engagement to be worthy to marry in the temple was so stressful that once we were able to actually have sex on our wedding night, I just cried and cried. I certainly was not able to perform and it was years before I feel like I was able to have a healthy sex life with my husband. Even now, 10 years into marriage I still get a sting of shame after being intimate just because it was always so demonized to have those feelings.
There are lots of variables that cause such trauma, but the worthiness interviews for sure didn’t help. I have three daughters of my own now and they will never be put in a room alone with any man (other than their father) regardless of what mantle that man holds. It’s just naive and honestly a liability to the interviewers too.
I didn’t realize it as a kid or young adult, but it is very obvious to me now that men interviewing children alone about their salvation is never going to be a good idea. The power dynamic, the vulnerability of youth, the lack of training in the leadership, this is a recipe for disaster and trauma.