I was born and raised in your standard LDS home. To give some background, I’d been through the standard public education sex-ed class and had been taught a little about sex and puberty by my mother when I was ten. I’d been taught nothing of masturbation but had already inadvertently discovered it, though I didn’t know that I was actually sinning according to the church.
As internet pornography became more pervasive the church increased its rhetoric against porn and ‘self abuse’ in young men’s lessons. By this time I was already regularly viewing pornography. Once I realized that I was in-fact masturbating I tried very hard to stop because I cared very much about honoring my priesthood. I couldn’t stop though. Every week I’d be taught in Church how terrible I was in the sight of God because I was doing these things. I’d plead with God and promise I’d stop if he’d help me. I’d continue to do my priesthood jobs and lie through temple recommend interviews, secretly knowing that I was a gross sinner and that I was going to hell.
This downward spiral would continue until I’d feel terrible enough that I’d go confess everything to the bishop. I recall being asked specifically what kind of porn I looked at and how often I’d masturbate. I’d walk out feeling better, but also knowing that I’d have to endure public shaming because people would know I was being punished for something. Yet, the original problems wouldn’t go away. Sure I’d abstain for a while but they’d always come back. God’s help never came. I only repeated this confession cycle once as an adult and decided to never do it again.
Eventually this shame would be a contributing factor in leaving my mission early, suicide attempts, decades of self loathing, professional counseling, and a near complete disconnect from the LDS church.