Three stories in one…
When I was young, I anticipated the day I would drive a car. I would sit in the car in the driveway and practice shifting the gears. When I became a scout (12-13), I had an assistant scoutmaster who was just one of the older boys (somewhere in the 16-18 age range). He took an interest in me and could sense my interest in driving. He would take me home from activities and let me steer the car. As time went on, he would let me drive the car, but scoot real close saying he needed to be able to grab the controls, if necessary. He took me to Sizzler and bought my dinner. We went to the lake one time and he stopped and bought himself some beer and whatever soda I wanted. I thought he was just being nice, but later figured out he was trying to date me. On our trip to the lake, he made up a story about studying psychology and that he wanted to ask me questions to practice. He told me that I couldn’t tell anyone else or he might get in trouble since he wasn’t licensed. He started asking me questions about if I masturbated. I didn’t know what he was talking about until he re-phrased it as ‘jacking off’. Then I lied. He asked other questions that, I later assumed, were intended to check out my sexual orientation. I only wanted to drive cars and liked the food and attention. One day, my dad told me I couldn’t hang out with this guy anymore. I found out from the other scouts/deacons that he had been caught, sexually molesting another boy and released from serving scouts. Last I heard, this guy was serving time in jail as a sex offender.
Throughout my youth, I was asked questions by the bishop about whether I masturbated. I usually lied because I knew what the church taught and I didn’t want to deal with the shame of others knowing. I would read in the Old Testament about how “if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out” or “if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off”. When I would feel like my masturbation was out of control, I would think that I should just ‘cut the offending member off’. Then my problem would be gone. Other times, I considered suicide because we all remember being taught that we would be better off dead, than unclean. One time the bishop asked me if I had problems with masturbation. When I lied that I didn’t, he said “Oh, it comes easy now”, then started laughing and said he always wanted to say that. His oldest daughter was my best friend from kindergarten until about fifth grade, so I was a little shocked that he would joke about something that really caused me so much shame. I remember being told that I would have to have not masturbated for one year before I could serve a mission, so I did pretty well and the one or two slip-ups didn’t keep me from going. While on my mission, I masturbated a few times. I was careful because I had heard of other elders being caught and if I knew, and everyone else knew what that elder did, I didn’t want those things spread around about me. I remember feeling so guilty. One day after masturbating the night before, we had a baptismal service at the chapel downtown, I was asked to conduct since I was a DL. After the service, the District President stopped me in the hall and commented on what a wonderful spirit he felt from me. I thought, “If you knew what I did last night, you wouldn’t say that.”
I was first married in early 1980’s. We built our first home and moved in in 1987. Shortly after moving in, I recall going in for a temple recommend and the bishop pulled out a photocopy of a letter under signature of the previous first presidency. He asked me to read it to myself. It was a letter from January of 1982 and no one else had ever shown this to me nor had I heard of it in over 5 years. The letter was saying that the first presidency says oral sex is an unholy and impure practice and if we are doing it, we aren’t worthy to enter the temple. The bishop asked me what I thought and I said “If that’s what they want, I’ll obey.” The bishop said he didn’t want to discuss it with the wives and asked me to pass it along to her. Being the obedient one, I said I would. Later, this letter came up with one of the counselors as we were taking the deposit to the bank and he told me that he and the other counselor told the bishop they didn’t think it was right. So, at the urging of his counselors, he called church HQ and was told that that letter had been rescinded within one year. The bishop never told me to ignore that previous meeting. My wife at that time, now felt that ‘missionary’ was the only position approved by God and the new information didn’t change that. She would then be frustrated that she couldn’t achieve orgasm through missionary position sex and would be angry at me and consider me a selfish lover, all while not allowing me to try anything else to bring her satisfaction.
The first story shows the danger of teaching our youth that it is perfectly normal to discuss our sexuality with someone older. The second story demonstrates the damage that the teachings, compounded by the interrogations, do to our youth and adults. The final story, while not about youth interviews, shows the damage that happens to couples when churches and organizations interfere in our God-given sexuality. The interviews AND shaming teachings need to STOP!!! If we stop the interviews without proper teaching, the shame will still go on.