This is something I posted to reddit a few years ago. I already had guilt and shame, the bishop made it worse.
As a child, I was born into a deeply religious and active LDS family. We lived in Salt Lake City, Utah for a while before heading to upstate New York when I was 10. For the next 9 years I tried to live my life as an active and completely devout church member. I participated in all aspects of the church, as typically required, and even made it to most Hill Cumorah pageants, since I lived so close to Palmyra. Growing up in New York was different than it was in Utah. I was not surrounded by Mormons; in fact, I was the only Mormon in my school.
I grew up as a child who felt immense guilt if I did not do what was expected of me. There were days when I would cry, have anxiety, panic, if I did something I thought my parents or God disapproved of. I believe my mother instilled this feeling of guilt in me. She always would chastise me if I did something wrong. She would always tell me “remember who you are and what you stand for.” I was always told my Heavenly Father is always watching me. He sees and knows everything. If I sinned and no one was around, he would still see. It’s terrifying knowing your Heavenly Father knows your thoughts and is always observing you as a child.
Most of the time, it was okay. Even when the other kids picked on me for my beliefs and made fun of me for not swearing, I held firm that I was doing what Heavenly Father wanted me to do. I knew he was watching.
The problem came when I started to hit puberty. My sexual urges and hormones were something I despised. I felt they were wrong to have. Whenever I would be interviewed to go to the Palmyra temple, the bishop would ask me if I masturbated. Of course, I had. My feelings and actions were normal, but at the time I couldn’t see them as normal. The chastisement from the bishop made me feel terrible. I wanted to disappear. Why couldn’t I just not have these feelings? Why was Heavenly Father making me have feelings, I desperately wanted to go away, if I was not allowed to act upon them?
I struggled with my sexual urges. Then one day, at the age of 15, I received a laptop as a gift from a relative who was not LDS. The laptop was used and given to me since the previous owner bought a new one. Unfortunately for me, I found files and files of porn on it.
At first I was terrified. I had never seen anything like this. But I couldn’t look away. At first, I kept it a secret. I was too embarrassed and terrified of what my parents would say to me. But I was also 15. Of course, I would “satisfy my urges” because they were so strong. The guilt that I felt immediately after was unbearable. I felt like I had let Heavenly Father down. I felt sick to my stomach knowing he was watching. I tried to stop myself. I always vowed I would never do it again. But the urges kept coming and it felt like they took over. I started to hate myself. I was ashamed every time. The guilt was so overwhelming. I cried and prayed. I asked for strength; for the feelings to go away. Eventually I started to feel that I was worthless, that Heavenly Father was fed up with me asking for forgiveness and continuing my pattern of behavior. I thought, more than once, I should kill myself. I can’t do what Heavenly Father wants me to do so I should give up. I couldn’t overcome the urges.
As years went on, I gave in to my feelings. I would cover myself during the process and get it over with as soon as possible. I knew Heavenly Father was watching. I just did my best not to think of Him. But the guilt always reminded me afterwards. I told myself that one day I would be married and it would be okay. I looked forward to finally being free of the guilt and shame. Only, I’m not free.
The years of feeling Heavenly Father was watching me and feeling ashamed for what I was doing had become permanent. My wife and I would try to have sex, and I always told myself it was okay now because I’m married. But the feelings of Him watching me made it impossible to make love to my wife. I had trained myself to hide my body while I did what I always regretted doing. I had trained myself to feel the shame in my sexuality. It has made it very difficult perform with my wife. I thought Heavenly Father was punishing me for all the times I had failed him.
And to this day, I still have intimacy issues and feelings of shame. I’m not even LDS anymore. I’m atheist actually. But my mind was trained to think a certain way; to associate a certain behavior with a particular response.
I have tried to set myself free from this, but its extremely difficult. I hate it. And it hurts me most because I love my wife more than anything and I want to have a healthy sexual relationship with her, guilt free and without performance issues.