I grew up in the LDS Church, was baptized at 8, ordained a deacon at 12, teacher at 14, priest at 16, elder at 18, served a two-year mission starting at 19. I returned home at 21, and became a non-believing ex-Mormon by 27. I am currently 39, and have never had any desire to return to believing in or attending the LDS church.
As I progressed through the Church priesthood, at each step along the way, I had to participate in a worthiness interview. Additionally, a similar interview process would take place in order to receive a temple recommend, which is required to attend any of the LDS temples (but not for regular church attendance). The purpose of the worthiness interview was simply to determine if I was obeying the rules of the church and was therefore worthy to receive the higher priesthood office or enter the temple. These interviews were conducted with the local bishop or with a member of the stake presidency, a higher office that oversaw multiple bishops. All of these men were unpaid volunteers selected by church authorities who as far as I know had no relevant education or training as a youth counselor or therapist. These were all private interviews between me and the bishop with no other individual present. During these interviews, the bishop would ask questions such as the following:
(I have very little memory of the interview prior to baptism, and I believe that many of the questions below would not have been included with an 8-year old child.)
1) Do you believe that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is true?
2) Do you sustain the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints as Prophet, Seer, and Revelator?
3) Are you a full tithe payer?
4) Do you have any contact with “anti-Mormon” groups or materials?
5) Do you smoke, drink or use any illegal drugs?
6) Have you ever engaged in sexual intercourse, passionate kissing, or other sexual behavior?
7) Have you ever had any homosexual feelings?
8) Have you ever engaged in masturbation?
There were a lot of other questions, but the ones that really stick out in my mind more than 20 years later are the questions about sex. I do not believe that any of the bishops I interviewed with relished asking these questions or wanted to hear an affirmative answer to any of the sexual questions. However, they saw it as a part of their responsibility. It is deeply ingrained within LDS culture that unmarried members must keep themselves sexually innocent and undergo a process of confession and repentance if they break any of the rules about sexual abstinence.
Like the vast majority of young people, I was guilty of what I thought was the terrible sin of masturbation. For me, these interviews and the broader LDS culture of complete sexual abstinence prior to marriage led to years of a guilty conscience and years of lying to what I took to be honest bishops and other interviewers just trying to do their duty.. The process of losing my faith in the Church also unburdened me of the weight of years of sexual guilt.
I would absolutely recommend that the Church should stop asking sexual questions to minors. It is entirely inappropriate for unrelated adults with no relevant qualifications or medical training to ask sexual questions to minors. However, this change would not make me consider returning to the Church. Nor would this change be sufficient to stop others from the sexual guilt that I suffered during my teenage years, unless it is also accompanied by a revolutionary change in how chastity is understood by the Church and taught to young members of the Church.