I remember as a youth being constantly reminded of the dangers of pornography and sexual promiscuity. These concepts were always taught to me in vague and even degrading ways. I came to be afraid of myself, and horrified by my own sexuality. I often went to the bishop’s office because I had seen girls in bikinis and stopped to do a double take, or had watched a movie where a woman was clothed “immodestly”. I would abstain from taking the sacrament because of wet dreams or masturbation, and came to loathe my own sexuality. I imagined that if I could just get rid of my sexual feelings and thoughts I would be a much happier person, and I tried very hard to do so. The more I tried though, the worse things became, and the worse I felt about myself.
When I began dating, I was afraid of all forms of physical and sexual intimacy. I was afraid of crossing the lines, of breaking my covenants, and of ruining a relationship. When I finally began to get over these fears, I would still find myself regretting the closeness that I shared with the people I dated, and feeling unworthy, even though we had not had sexual intercourse.
Never once did a church leader teach me about the value of consent, or that to explore one’s sexuality is both normal, and healthy. Instead, in all of my interviews with my Bishop, I was told just to “keep up the good work”, and continue to try to be pure. I was never told to talk with my parents about these subjects.