I was born and raised in the LDS church in Las Vegas, NV. I began worthiness interviews with my bishop at the age of 12 as it was expected of all children at that age. I remember my bishop as a kind and approachable man whom everyone looked up to and trusted. However, he did ask me explicit sexual questions as I sat in his office without my parents. Parent’s were never present during these interviews. He asked many questions, including those about my testimony, tithing, following the commandments, the word of wisdom, and about sexual purity.
I remember being humiliated, my face burning red, when I had to answer questions about impure sexual thoughts, masturbation, and petting/sexual activity with boys. I was 12 years old! These interviews continued annually until age 17, when I refused to go.
I never discussed the meetings with my parents. They were both converts to the church in their early 20s, so they never experienced these interviews as children. As a 16 and 17 year-old, I did experiment sexually. I couldn’t talk to my parents about sex as they were devout members of the LDS church. I was too scared and ashamed to ask them anything. I suffered guilt and shame for years, thinking I was some kind of pervert, for having these sexual feelings, thoughts, and actions as a teenager.
These uncomfortable and awkward interviews continued when I began attending church again (after a 2 year break). I was assigned to a singles LDS ward when I became a student at Southern Utah University (for single adults ages 18-30). Not only did I endure the humiliation of these interviews for 2 or 3 more years, but also during church meetings.
I remember many Sunday sermons in which a member of the bishopric would talk for an hour about the sin of masturbation and sexual activity. Finally, at the age of 21, I put my foot down and told the bishop “no” during one of these worthiness interviews. He asked how many times me and my boyfriend had engaged in sexual activity. He asked for details about oral sex, anal sex, and sexual positions. I told him “That’s none of your business. We’re done” and walked out.
I left the church years later when my sister came out as gay, forcing me to evaluate my own beliefs. I realized they didn’t align with the beliefs of the LDS church. I truly believe these interviews are inappropriate and harmful to children. I suffered years of anxiety and depression that I feel were related to the stress, shame, and guilt I endured as a teenager and young adult in the LDS church. I hope LDS parents become aware of this practice and demand that bishops stop asking explicit sexual questions to their children.