I am a convert to the church. I joined when I was 13 years old along with my family. I grew up in a broken home, the church was a good place for me to be. As time went on I started feeling more open and safe at church. My bishop was always nice to me, never asked me detailed sexual questions. As a teen, as all teenagers do, I discovered masturbation. I can’t even remember how it even happened. I often felt embarrassed that I did masturbate as a teen, not knowing everyone else was doing it.
As I got older; still in my teens, I was called to serve in higher level callings that required me to be interviewed by the stake president. I was shocked that I was asked if I masturbated. Nothing came of it.
When I started to prepare for my mission I read the entire “Book of Mormon”, did everything asked of me by my bishop. I worked and saved up enough money to pay all of my mission. I was in a young singles ward at the time. My bishop said I was ready to set up a stake president interview. Before setting up the interview my bishop told me to be vague in my answers to the stake president because the stake president had been holding several guys in the ward back from going on their missions. My bishop never asked if I masturbated, only asked if I was sexually active which I wasn’t.
At my first stake president interview, I was welcomed by my stake president, asked to pray, immediate after opening my eyes from praying my stake president asked when was the last time you masturbated. I felt the sweat drip down my chest as he asked me how many times a day I masturbated, if I watched porn which i didn’t…. I thought it was awful. He said I needed to meet with him the following week.
The following week I met with him, exactly the same experience. This ended up going on for a year!! It turned to having to call him every time I masturbated. Keep in mind, I had never looked at porn, never kissed a girl let alone had sex. I had to meet with him every couple of weeks. He then told me I couldn’t take the sacrament anymore. Every time the bread was being passed around I felt like my face turned hot red. I made up every excuse as to why I hadn’t left on my mission. My friends parents would scold me without knowing what the real reason was as to why I hadn’t left on my mission. It’s a time in my life I wish to forget. I could not stop masturbating, the very fact that I was having to report every time I masturbated to the stake president made it even worse.
Finally I couldn’t take the public pressure and constant questioning as to why I hadn’t left on my mission, so I lied to my stake president and said I haven’t masturbated and completely stopped. He said ok I will send off your papers for your mission. I then immediately switched to my family ward which was in a different stake. I immediately met with my new stake president and then a day later felt terrible for lying to my old stake president so I told my new stake president what had happened. He calmed me down and said Jeffrey, your ok, there is nothing wrong with you. Masturbation is normal, in my judgment your more than ready to serve as a missionary. He said never call or talk to the other stake president and go enjoy your mission.
Looking back, I have realized this was a form of abuse… Some of the interviews I have completely blocked out of my memory because they were so raw and uncomfortable. These types of experiences need to stop! The church needs to open up, create an environment that allows it’s people to voice their concerns without being called a apostate.