Growing up, sexually explicit questions became the norm from an early age. I remember vividly at the age of 11, during my initial Aaronic priesthood interview, being asked about masturbation and pornography. I didn’t really know what the bishop was talking about, but he proceeded to vividly describe both to me. He said that my body belonged to my wife and that any violations of the Law of Chastity would be dishonoring her forever.
Later on, when I was 14, I was shaking as I confessed occasionally masturbating. The bishop asked several follow up questions. I felt so uncomfortable and ashamed, especially since I knew I was gay by that point.
I never confessed again to the bishop and from ages 14-18 I felt so much guilt and even bordered on suicidal thoughts because I occasionally masturbated. I firmly convinced myself that I was not going to end up in the Celestial Kingdom. I eventually read Spencer Kimball’s “The Miracle of Forgiveness” in which he stated masturbation leads to the most grievous sin of homosexuality. I felt like if I ever confessed, my sexuality would be discovered.
This all led up to my mission. My heart was pounding as I got my recommendation, especially as my stake president asked me numerous explicit questions: “Have you had oral sex?” “Have you had sexual intercourse?” “Have you masturbated in the last 3 months?”
I entered the mission field and faced doubt about the church, so I decided to confess to my mission president. He, as well as a member of the 70, connected my doubts and struggles to masturbation from months and years earlier. I felt so depressed whenever I messed up and assumed that I was the only one who ever struggled (honestly believing Kimball’s claims about homosexuality.)
Later on, when I finally came out as gay to a different mission president, he was required by the church to put me through a “safety evaluation.” He informed me that the evaluation was only given to child pornography addicts, those who participate in beastiality, and gay people.
He (my mission president) asked me several probing and unnecessary questions, including requiring me to give detailed descriptions of not just sexual practices but all sexual thoughts. The most disturbing set of questions, is where I was asked if I can have “normal” relationships with someone who is a male-implying that anyone who is gay must be predatory towards every one of the same gender.
I was deemed a high risk person by the church’s legal department, but after a month of being constantly suicidal due to the questions, I was allowed to stay. I was later sent home.
From the age of 11, my interactions with priesthood leaders led to a decade of shame, guilt, and suicidality. I can remember every explicit conversation in vivid detail and I still often am traumatized by minor interactions with priesthood leadership.
This HAS TO STOP! I didn’t know any better. I was taught this was normal from the time I was 12, so I never questioned it. I was bullied into submission to the institution, and never even thought to stand up to it. I couldn’t. These men were supposedly God’s chosen leaders-who was I to question?
Getting rid of sexually explicit questions will help make youth interaction with church leadership more healthy. It will especially help LGBTQ youth to come to their own conclusions about their sexuality without fear mongering from their leaders.