I had a terrible sex education growing up. It was practically a banned topic at my house. We even had a TV guardian that would edit swear words on live TV, and it would replace the word “sex” with “hugs.”
My bishop was a good man who sincerely loved and wanted to help others. I remember a temple recommend interview I had as a youth, I think he wanted to make sure I was ‘morally clean’, and didn’t quite know how to word the question, so he asked something along the lines of, “you don’t touch yourself anywhere?”
Again having no sex education I had no idea what he meant, but in light of how much my home life shamed any mention of sexual body parts, I only assumed he meant my breasts. So I didn’t touch them for years. As I learned more about sex getting older I didn’t touch myself at all around my vagina or vulva either. I developed ideas about how these areas were “off-limits” in order to remain pure. The intense psychological fear I developed around sex evolved into a DSM-5 diagnosable sexual dysfunction, which threw a huge wrench into my sexual satisfaction for my first few years of marriage. This also led to feelings of extreme guilt and shame, performance anxiety in the bedroom, hatred of sex, and fear that I could never have kids. It has taken years to recover, and I’m still on that road. I feel very fortunate that I have found ways to overcome my dysfunction, and my sex life is much more satisfying. The bitterness toward sex-shaming culture, though, is very real.
I do not blame the bishop for my dysfunction. He was a good man trying to do his job and was probably told by somebody he needed to ask those questions. The problem was, he perpetuated sex-shaming culture through his questions. The more we let bishops ask sex-related questions to youth, the more we risk spreading sex-shaming culture, and that itself is a mild consequence compared to the other stories out there. The ideas we spread about sex are all wrong in the church, and it needs to stop.