I grew up in the church. From a young age, I was taught the church’s “law of chastity” from church materials such as the pamphlet “For the Strength of Youth”. This pamphlet says, among other things, that sexual sins are more serious than any other sins except for murder and denying the Holy Ghost, that sexual sins include masturbation and viewing pornography, and that before marriage doing anything that leads to sexual arousal is wrong. It also says that in order to repent of sexual sins, you must confess everything to your bishop.
This all led me to feel intense shame about my body and my sexuality, in spite of doing my best to follow the church’s rules. I felt guilty any time I felt aroused or even thought that a woman looked attractive. Dallin Oaks, an apostle of the LDS church taught that women could become “walking pornography” if they wore “immodest” clothes (also, WTF). And so I constantly saw “pornography” around me. At swimming pools I would stare off in random directions to avoid seeing women in bikinis, and I still felt guilt and shame.
Needless to say, I had a very unhealthy view on sexuality, and did my best to repress my own sexuality.
From age 12 to 17 I had at least one interview per year with the bishop, who asked me if I was following the law of chastity. There would often be follow-ups in which I talked about my sexual feelings, as well as masturbation. Looking back I recognize how wholly inappropriate this was, and how I was conditioned to think that it was not only ok, but necessary, to discuss all this one-on-one with the bishop. Most of my bishops were well intentioned and were just trying to do their best (though I did get one that was creepy and asked probing questions). But these interviews made me feel even more worthless. I spent a lot of time as a youth thinking about how I just wasn’t good enough. How I must be such a horrible person because I had sexual thoughts and feelings, and that those feelings put me up on the sin spectrum, not quite as bad as actually having sex, but still up there just a little bit below murder.
I carried this sexual shame into my adulthood and was only able to recover when I realized the church in which I’d grown up was not true, it didn’t hold power over me, and that I didn’t need an institution to tell me that I was good enough.