I discovered self-love at age 11. It was sorta an accident, but I really enjoyed it. I knew it must be wrong because my mother caught me once and we had a meeting with the Bishop that lasted an hour. We talked about playing with the special present before Christmas, and that I shouldn’t arise any of those feelings until I was married. I had to wait 4 months to become a deacon because I had this huge problem. A couple of my friends got ordained before me, and kept asking me what was holding me up, I told them I wasn’t worthy. Eventually, I got ordained, but I would always fall back into the habit. It was a horrible cycle of self-hatred and confession. I really began to hate myself as a 12-year-old, because I couldn’t stop. A few times I’d think about hurting my hand so that I wouldn’t be able to masturbate. I shut my hand our car door, but this would only work for a few days.
All the sexual shaming that went on was really damaging, I’d do good for a while, mess up then have to tell my parents and my bishop, and get benched again from participating in the sacrament. This lead to my whole teenage life trying to not be sexual, while feeling a giant sex drive. I wasn’t hurting anyone, I was just a teenager growing into my sexuality.
Just after I was ordained to be a priest we changed Bishops, and the new Bishop was very interested in my sexual history. It seems the previous Bishop told him I was a sexually active young man, and to keep an eye on me. In our first interview, he asked, “what do you think about when you are touching yourself?” “When you are touching yourself, are you totally nude or do you just have your pants down a little?” “What time of day do your normally touch yourself? If you ever look at porn in conjunction, what kind of porn do you watch? Is it ever same-sex porn?” “Do you feel dirty after?” “What gets you sexually aroused?”
He would have me call him anytime it happened and we’d arrange to meet and talk about it. He would also have me describe what lead up to me masturbating to him while we were on the phone as well as all my thoughts and feelings during and after. I felt so dirty, guilty and ashamed explaining to this man in his 50s over the phone all of my sexual thoughts and behaviors. He had me go into detail every time about where I was, what I was wearing, how I touched myself etc. I had no idea at the time how HORRIBLE this was because my parents knew all this and forced me to keep meeting with this man. The last time I met with him he “accidentally” dragged his hand across my penis and the end of the interview (to check if I was aroused). He laughed and said, “whoops, let’s not say anything about that to anyone.”
I felt weird. I didn’t think he was trying anything, but I was super naive and none of the other behavior raised any red flags because my parents were totally on board with this guy being my sex therapist. I decided I wasn’t going to be honest anymore, so I said I stopped. The bishop would still “follow-up” with me on the phone every week for a few months, until I told him I had mastered it. I think he knew I was lying because he would grill me intensely and tell me if I was lying that I would need to repent longer. Looking back I’m shocked my parents let an adult man call me and ask me sexual questions weekly. He would be as explicit on the phone as he was in person.
He was also the one that told me that every time I spanked the bank it was next to murder. That combined with his hyper interest in my sexuality lead to me hating myself everytime I jacked off. I can remember probably 100+ occasions thinking about killing myself because I couldn’t stop the habit. I only would do it a few times a week, but it always felt good, and I would feel horrible after because I was “driving the nails into the hands of Christ.” (another gem he shared with me.)
I would hold knives to my chest after and think how easy it would be to just end it. I felt that I was fucked up, that I wanted to sin, that all I could think about as a hormonal teenage was sex. I stood at the edge of a cliff near my parents home, and would just stand there and ask God to push me off. I hated myself, and on a weekly basis I was told I was unworthy, broken, and needed to become something different and new.
The damage from all this was pretty intense, and my sexuality was totally out of whack for the last 20 years. I’m learning that masturbation is totally normal, and healthy. I often have said to my wife how damaging being raised in the church was for me and she didn’t get it. I just recently told her about this story. It was one of the things that broke her shelf. I still have a long way to go before I am healed, but I’m making progress, and I don’t want to kill myself anytime I need the release.
The Bishop is now in the stake presidency. I don’t have the strength or courage to confront that yet. I know I need to because he’s probably hurting other people. I just can’t right now. My dad is one of his best friends. I tried to talk to him about it but didn’t believe me. He said the hand across the pants thing was clearly an “accident” and that I am just trying to “hurt the church.”
The part of all this that hurts the most is that my parents were totally aware of the kinds of questions he was asking me, and they kept forcing me to meet with him. I was so damaged by this practice of 1 on 1 interviews, and I still feel pain today.