When I was 17, 2009, a few weeks from Graduation & a couple months shy of turning 18, I made the choice to be sexual with my high school boyfriend. We were both very active members, came from large families, participated in school clubs and multiple sports teams, didn’t ever get into trouble, both very honest kids.
Well, life happened and we made the choices we did. After a while we both decided it needed to end because we still valued our morals, and it didn’t feel right. We both decided to talk to our parents first and they of course told us we needed to start the repentance process right away and it started with talking to the bishop. That night my parents made me an appointment and I went.
I remember thinking “This is odd, I have to go talk to a man I’m not close to, and a man I’m definitely not going to feel comfortable talking about sex with… but if I don’t then I am not going to be forgiven.” I didn’t care about his opinion of me, I told my parents and wanted guidance from them in the situation, not a bishop. I distinctly remember having these thoughts as I was driving to the church and waiting outside his office.
Once I was in my interview the bishop questioned why I was there pretty quick. And it got weird FAST. I was asked to explain in detail what I did and what my boyfriend (at the time) did in return. I was told to explain positions, feelings, where his hands touched, where mine did, if we talked during, if we both “climaxed” etc etc etc. All while he’s leaning back in his chair behind the desk with a smirk on his face. It was the most awful position and feeling I have ever experienced. Over 10 years later, I can feel it again writing this. I was told to be ashamed and that if I didn’t end up marrying this person (which I did not) I would already be unclean and unworthy for any other man.
Then we got to my punishments. Along with not taking the sacrament until we agreed otherwise, I was given THE book (lol), The Miracle of Forgiveness, I was told I could not graduate seminary, I could not receive my presidency honors award, and I could not receive my Young Women’s Medallion I had already worked for. As a senior in HS, loving seminary & being proud of completing everything I did, to have all of that taken away from me without a say BROKE me. I made “mistakes” and was there to start the repentance process and get some guidance to better myself. Instead I was shamed and given multiple consequences that flipped my world upside down.
That interview was a couple hours. I was questioned and probed for specific nasty details for 2 hours. But that’s okay… because whatever sexual questions he wanted/needed to ask to deem my worthiness was allowed. Allowed by my parents and the church.
Once I was out, I called my (at the time) boyfriend and he asked how my interview went, I didn’t say anything except that I wanted him to tell me his experience with his bishop first. Keeping in mind everything I just went through and all my punishments, he had a quick 20 minute interview, was told to pray and ask for forgiveness and take the sacrament when he felt ready again. Why was there such a difference between bishops, questioning, consequences, shaming, giving horrid details, length of interview?? Was the difference because I was a 17 year old female and he wasn’t?
I immediately stopped going to church and instantly felt peace. After being in that situation and realizing what happened to me, by a “man of God” I knew that’s not where I belonged if those are the type of men that will deem my worthiness. I officially removed my records years later.
I stand with you & support you. Thank you for taking this stand and sacrificing your membership, relationships, everything. If just one young man or woman doesn’t ever have to go through what I did, that’s worth it to me.