While myself and my children are out of the church, I was significantly affected by the teachings of shame regarding masturbation and felt the effects of self loathing and worthlessness. I discussed these effects as well as the issues of grooming and potential abuse in the context of worthiness interviews with my faithful, attending mother.
I was surprised to learn that she was not aware of the nature of the teachings regarding masturbation that I experienced growing up in the church. She told me that she never considered masturbation to be a sin requiring confession with a bishop. She didn’t realize that I had endured lesson after lesson about how masturbation was wicked and a gateway sin to deeper iniquity. How could she? As a convert she never attended youth classes or seminary and as a woman she never attended Priesthood session of conference so she was never exposed to those lessons. She didn’t realize that Bishops grilled kids about masturbation in worthiness interviews.
Later we talked about the nature of abuse and disparity of power dynamics in religious settings. We watched the movie “Spotlight” together. She shared with me her own experiences of having a close friend serving as a bishop dealing with the fallout of a prior instance of child abuse by a leader of the church.
After all this, my mother started to acknowledge that this is an important issue which needs to be addressed. She could not help but agree that if it was wrong and dangerous for a catholic priest to interview a child behind closed doors about sex – then it is not right for Mormon Bishops to do the same thing. There is just as much danger involved.
After carefully considering the issue she decided that supporting a change in interview policy is a good thing and will help sustain the church leaders by calling their attention to an important issue that needs their careful and inspired attention. She wants her grandchildren who remain in the church to have the safest and healthiest environment to thrive.
She signed the petition AND she shared it on her Facebook page.
I am so proud of her courage.