My father was my Church authority all during high school and I had to do these interviews with him. It was excruciatingly humiliating and, in retrospect, I think it was awful for him to be put in that position as well. He was not a perfect father or husband and, being in the “mission field,” I always felt I had to “cover” for him (sacrifice my feelings, not talk to anyone) in order to protect or at least not tarnish the reputation of the church in our under-represented territory. When I went to have my college interview with the Stake official I was asked all the same (humiliating sexual) questions. I was uncomfortable but happy and proud to answer that I was okay with everything and had nothing to confess or to repent. Guess what happened next? This stern, unsmiling priesthood authority looked at me and said, “I think you are an excellent actress.”
I was seventeen. I had no idea how how to respond. What to do or what to say, or even if I had the right to ask him what he meant. I felt totally alone and overwhelmed, like the world was falling out from under me. Almost 50 years later it still bothers me. Just typing this brings it all back and makes me feel like crying. I had worked hard to be a good reflection on the Church and now I felt abandoned, like I was being swallowed up by mistrust and unspoken accusations from a man with, supposedly, even more authority and “inspiration” than my own father. Words cannot adequately describe the sense of betrayal this left in me. Looking back, the whole thing seems perfectly outrageous. And, unfortunately, that was not the end of it. It is impossible for me to describe how this played out as I entered young adulthood, marriage and motherhood. But, suffice it to say that…years later, when I felt forced to choose between being a decent human being with my self esteem intact or a member with arbitrary standing in the LDS church….I chose to part with the Church. And I will never apologize for making the choice to preserve my personal dignity and mental health. For myself, yes, But also because I could not meet my worldly responsibilities to my own children without those things: No CHILD (or even adult seeking loving support or guidance) should be expected to sacrifice his or her dignity and self respect by willingly being subjected this kind of insensitivity, condemnation, rush to judgment without care or understanding, or what boils VERY SIMPLY down to ABUSE OF POWER AND AUTHORITY IN THE NAME OF GOD.
Thank you, Mr. Young. For loving your daughters. For caring about children. For believing in the goodness of people and having the courage to stand up for them as I believe Jesus did in spite of the personal consequences. At least you felt the guilt to begin with. The rest seem untouched by anything akin to it.