Recently, I was contacted by a struggling member of the church. Here, I’ll call him Ron. He asked if we could get together for a one-on-one Talkeria. Over the past year, Ron had been going through a painful and lonely faith transition…and wanted to talk about it. I still view it as a great tragedy and travesty that there is no safe space inside the church for discussion. We met for 3 hours.
This good brother has a young toddler. During our chat, he made this startling statement. “I’m going to leave the church before they get their hands on my baby daughter.”
I had never heard such a grim and jarring statement describing someone’s reason for getting out.
Mormon Stories #732, Scott Duke
Today, I heard something that made me think of my new friend, Ron. Over the past couple of days, on the drive to and from work, I listened to a Mormon Stories Podcast. In it, Scott Duke shares his fascinating and heartrending faith journey. Heartbreaking on several fronts.
My attention was riveted until Scott shared a grim and jarring statement made by his Stake President. He was being interviewed for his calling as a missionary. Of course, masturbation was discussed. Remember, what follows was said by a man who is viewed as having great authority—the Stake President. The target of his comment was a young, inexperienced, and normal young man.
The Stake President’s words caught me totally off guard. “If you don’t overcome this, the day will come when you are not worth a damn to anyone.”
To My Six Children
This Stake President’s chastisement is totally out of bounds. It has the potential to do great damage. If this were ever said to a loved one of mine, my retort would be: “It’s YOU, Mr. Church Leader, who is not worth a damn to me. Stay away from my child.”
We have a dreadful ritual lurking behind the closed doors in our church buildings. An untrained man, in a position of authority, takes an innocent child behind those closed doors, alone, without a parent present, without parental permission, and asks the child about his or her masturbatory predilections. This is a gross and dangerous practice.
Life may be like a box of chocolates. But, some candies are corrupt and reprehensible. You never know what you are going to get when the door swings shut, isolating your child, alone, with an adult male who may say something idiotic like, “the day will come when you are not worth a damn to anyone.”
Why Are We Waiting?
As the only true church, we should be on the cutting edge of what is good, right and safe.
Fortunately, we jettisoned polygamy when society demanded it. Mercifully, polyandry never caught on. Fortuitously, we granted black people the priesthood 10 years after civil rights laws were passed.
Our society has moved beyond grown men asking inappropriate questions to children in private. I do not know of another church that engages in this unfortunate practice. I’m ashamed that my church still does.
Why are we waiting for this alarming custom to go away on its own? It won’t. I encourage my adult kids, and every other thinking and concerned adult, to end it RIGHT NOW….for your children’s sake. Especially, for my grandchildren’s sake.
My friend, Ron, has now left the church. He was not willing to wait for the changes. His child was too precious to him.
What To Do
- Don’t let your child be interviewed without your permission.
- Be present, in the closed door room, during the interview.
- Inform your bishop of your conditions for youth interviews. You are to be present. No discussion about masturbation or other sexual matters. That is to be between you and your child ONLY.
- Inform your child that they are to let you know whenever any church leader requests a meeting with them.
- If inappropriate questions are asked, stop the interview immediately.
A couple of months ago, I wrote about someone else’s experience regarding their child’s inappropriate interview with a bishop. It recounts the altogether appropriate response from an involved and loving father. HERE is the link.