My brother has suffered for 20+ years because of the extreme shaming coinciding with sexually explicit questioning. It was only about a year ago that he shared his tearful story with me.
My brother was a “pleaser” from a young age. He strove to be a model Mormon, citizen and son. As his teenage years approached, so did his Temple-worthiness Bishop conducted interviews. Me, being only a year older, also endured these interrogations, usually on the same day(s). When I was asked if I masturbate (among other very explicit questions, many documented in other story’s here, i.e.: Pornography, sexual activity, oral sex, anal sex, homosexual thoughts or behaviors, etc, etc, etc.), I just lied. Not that I felt “unworthy”, only that I just felt embarrassed. I learned much later that my brother did not lie. He was the model Mormon, after all. He was shamed and made to feel “dirty”. He was told to pray for forgiveness and for Heavenly Father to help control these unnatural urges, of he wouldn’t be abl to obtain a Temple recommend or go on a mission.
Well, as teenage boys do, he continued this “sinful” behavior, and every year, year after year, he would tell the Bishop the truth. He began to struggle with a deeply locked depression. He never had a serious girlfriend and was considerably awkward around girls and women. He struggled in school and only maintained a few close friendships. His relationship with our mother was incredibly strained, as she (still to this day) places her spirituality above everything else; even her own children.
As my brother grew older, and as a model Mormon young man, it became time for him to serve his mission. He was called to a stateside mission in a very large city in the Midwest. We were from a very small, rural town of only about 3000 people, so culture shock was of considerable concern, adding to his mounting anxiety and depression. He was still feeling incredible guilt and shame; “filthy”, is how he put it. About 9 months into his mission, he suffered a severe anxiety attack. He convinced his mission president to call our parents and was able to talk to them. He cried and pleaded with my mother to bring him home, but she wouldn’t hear it and made him stay.
Fast forward 3 more months, just over a year into his mission. He had been talking (illegally, by missionary standards) to a woman, about 10 years his senior, that he was proselytizing to. He said that she was the only one he could trust in that time. He suffered another, even worse anxiety attack. He called our parents again, and was, again, shunned by our mother and told to toughen up and see this through. Fearing that he may take his own life, he called this woman that he could confide in in the middle of the night and told her that if she didn’t come get him, right then, that he may do it. She drove over an hour, one way, and “saved his life”.
He was obviously excommunicated for leaving his mission, and after three months, was engaged to his earthly savior and married just a few months later. They have since been happily married 15 years and have had two beautiful children to add to her existing two to make a beautiful family of six.
Years later, he had a very frank discussion with our mother. He spilled it all, everything that started with the Bishop asking so many times, so many sexually explicit and inappropriate questions. Our mother, while appalled and surprised, seemed to defend the Bishop and the church. My brother still, to this day, suffers from extreme anxiety when it comes to our mother and the church in general. I know she loves us, but she is so brainwashed by the church, she doesn’t even come close to understanding the irreparable harm it has caused him ( and many, many others).
I fear I may paint my mother as a bad parent or an uncaring person. Nothing could be farther from the truth. I don’t blame her; I blame the church. Who could blame her? This is how she was raised and taught to believe for 60ish years! She is brainwashed!
You may be asking as you’re reading, where was our dad during all this? He was there, silent and strong, and ultimately sympathizes with (and maybe even sides with) my brother. He is the most caring, loving man in the world, but he sits under the thumb of our mother. He’s always avoided confrontation in life, especially with her. He loves her too much to start any kind of fight.
I cannot imagine the hurt that this line of questioning on a teenager can cause, or the sheer number of young, impressionable teens that were affected like my brother. I was lucky, and all I did was lie!