It wasn’t until I was 40 that I realized the damage Mormon bishop interviews had played a part in my life. By all accounts I am a successful and happy man. But behind the scenes I have led a life of depression, anxiety, and suicidal ideation. Not all of this can be blamed on Mormonism or the bishops I interviewed with, but at least some of it could have been avoided if these men had realized the self hate and self loathing their questions and judgement caused.
I was a normal Mormon boy. Active and tried my best. I never, not even once, touched drugs or alcohol. I kissed a few girls, but never got into heavy petting. Despite the wide access to it, I never even got into pornography either. What did I do? I masturbated from about 13 to 20 years old. Not very often, maybe once a month most of the time. I felt so bad and evil I considered cutting off my own penis multiple times. I also did not understand the idea of wet dreams, so I would equate those with masturbation because I would wake during or right after and then feel that same guilt.
My bishops and leaders would tell us often that sexual sins were next to murder. My mission president told me, after the first wet dream I had experienced in about 6 months, that I would very likely begin raping women in alleyways if I couldn’t get this under control. This was after I described this masturbation experience, a typical wet dream, to him in detail per his request.
I can’t even begin to tell you the horrors I went through believing I was committing a sin next to murder. I 100% believed God could take these urges away, and so I prayed and read scriptures for several hours every day asking for help. When the urges remained I believed God hated me. That belief stayed with me until my late 30’s. I hated myself and was close to suicide more often than not between the ages of 18 to 35. Mormonism taught me to be ashamed of myself and everything I was. No matter how good I was the self loathing and hatred never fully went away.
Now I have moved on. I had to leave Mormonism behind in order to find a healthy life. All those years of service in bishoprics and elders quorum and an honorable mission, and I had to leave it behind me in order to find peace in this life. Please stop shaming our youth. God did not hate me and he does not hate any of our kids. Please see the part you play in this system and end this horrific practice. Thank you.