Masturbation…Once a Week? Or is Daily Better?

Horror_

I’ve now written 6 blog posts about the Mormon church’s masturbation interviews with children.  Three were posted in the last 12 days.  This will be #4 in the past 2 weeks.  So why do I continue writing?

Well…I’m now receiving feedback from parents who have resolved to protect their children from inappropriate probing questions behind closed doors.  Here’s what I’m thinking.  Each blog post is worth it…

  • If…it alerts one parent to the dangers of bishopric masturbation interviews.
  • If…it helps one parent resolve to protect their children at church.
  • If…it saves one child from being subjected to a harmful masturbation interview.
  • If…it saves one child from inappropriate and damaging shame and guilt.
  • If…it saves one child from decades of sexual dysfunction.
  • If…it prevents sexual repression from a future marriage that is not scarred by years of childhood probings by untrained men, behind closed doors, all alone, without parental knowledge or consent.

So there it is.  Masturbation interviews….should I write warnings once a week?  Or is daily better?

Parents Protecting Their Children

Here’s a sampling of recent messages sent to me.  Good for these active, believing church members.

Message #1:   Prompted by the topic of Sam Young’s recent posts (bishops asking probing, detailed, sexual questions in closed-door interviews with underage girls), I have talked with my spouse as it concerns our daughter and potential future interviews with priesthood leaders. I related to her some of the disgusting things that can happen behind the closed doors of priesthood leaders’ offices.  My wife agreed that our daughter will NEVER undergo an interview with anyone in a church setting alone/by herself.  If my daughter ever goes to an interview, we are in agreement that at least one of us as her parent will be present in the room at all times.  And if some bishop insists that she can’t progress with baptism/whatever unless he interviews her alone… well, then so be it!

Message #2:  I broached this subject with my husband and he agreed as well. Because I don’t have trust that the request will always be adhered to by the bishop/local leaders, I went to my daughter and discussed with her the decision her dad and I had made. I let her know this is a boundary that we have made as a family and that she has the authority and power to uphold that boundary should she ever be asked for an interview by herself.

Message #3:   This is exactly what I have approved with my wife. What a gift to your children. I wonder if enough people start demanding this if the church will make a statement or adjust a policy, either to open it up, or shut it down. A friend recently told me that his bishop told him in detail HOW to masturbate BEFORE he had a chance to figure it out on his own, yikes. His parents would have been furious.  I’m glad my kids won’t have these discussions.

Message #4:  I saw your posts about inappropriate questions bishops ask and was totally shocked!  So, I asked a large Mormon mom group about their experiences with bishops asking their children, or even themselves, inappropriate questions.  I personally have only been asked if I was following the law of chastity.  So, it never occurred to me that anyone would be asked anything else.  I’m getting notifications left and right of new stories.  Lots of totally inappropriate ones.

Someone’s 12 year old daughter was asked if she had engaged in sexual intercourse and he explained what that meant.  Others said that a bishop explained ways you could masturbate.  One woman who was baptized a few years ago was angry and upset no one told her masturbation was breaking the law of chastity.

There was story after story.  It was so shocking.  As a newer member, I appreciate you posting this.  I will not be letting a bishop ask my children anything without myself there.  Lots of women in my group came to that same conclusion.  So, thank you so much for talking about difficult things.

Message #5:   Called my ex to talk about my son’s upcoming baptism interview, ready to fight about closed doors and demand a parent in the room.  Surprisingly, he cut me off at the top of my inquiry and said, “I will be in the room during all of our boys’ (we have two) interviews from here until their mission interview at 18. The bishop has been warned to never ask about masturbation. Ever.

Message #6:   A 13 year old female friend in the 70s was asked by a pillar of the community bishop to describe HOW she masturbated. Under no circumstances should any parent allow a child alone with a bishop. Especially considering they have apparently been instructed to discuss “chastity” issues with 7 year olds in baptismal interviews.

Insightful Comment from a Former Bishop

“I can’t believe they still think masturbation is a sin. That’s another thing I realized as bishop. I masturbated my whole life, during my mission and all. I figured if I could be called as a bishop and masturbated, God didn’t care. I never asked anyone about it. To the few people who tried to confess it, I told them not to worry about it, and said it wasn’t a big deal at all. When I heard members of the stake presidency preach about it, I thought to myself, these men are such hypocrites. They masturbate all the time, and they preach against it.”

P.S.

Do you disapprove of private, closed door, masturbation interviews with your children?  If so, feel free to express disapproval on the Common Consent Register found HERE.

Get Your Thoughts and Probing Questions Out of Our Daughters’ PANTIES!!

Disgusted Girl

***Warning***

If you are OK with an older untrained man taking a 12 year old girl, alone, behind closed doors, without parental knowledge or consent, to ask personal sexual questions….DO NOT READ ON!!!!  You’re good to go.

Calling It Like It Is

No more pussy footing around.  A crappy spade is a crappy spade.  More & more continues to come out.  The church leadership has affected my own children more than I knew.  Just today, I found out additional things that were done to my young children.   So, here goes.

Bishops….get your thoughts and probing questions out of our daughter’s panties.

Bishops…get your thoughts and probing questions out of our sons’ underpants.

Bishops…masturbation and sex are totally inappropriate topics to be discussed with our minor children.

Bishops…shaming and guilting our children is NOT acceptable.

Bishops…interrogating our children about orgasm, penetration or sexual positions is sexual abuse of minors.  It’s a serious and nasty business.  STOP IT!!!

Blatant Disregard for Parental Protection

Listen to this story from a mother trying to protect her son.  Here are her words.

Below is an email I sent to my children’s bishop in November 2016 just after my son (Tyler) turned 16 and was being interviewed for the position of priest in the church (he was denied and still has not received it). I told my spouse (Bryan) before this interview that he had to be present with our Tyler and not allow him to be questioned about sexual matters. He missed my understanding on that and Tyler was questioned about masturbation anyway.

Dear Bishop,   Bryan informed me a little while ago that Tyler was asked questions of a sexual nature during his last interview.  I had specifically requested that my son not be asked those questions.  I find it highly inappropriate for a full-grown adult to ask questions of a sexual nature to an adolescent.  I don’t want him to feel shame and guilt for his actions.  The shame and guilt has caused Bryan so much pain and self-loathing over the years.  I don’t want Tyler to feel that way.  Please respect my wishes when it comes to Tyler, and all the other children in my family.  I know that it’s the request of the brethren to address these with the youth, but I am not comfortable with it.  Please refrain from this questioning to my children.  

Respectfully,  Shellie Smith

Two weeks following, he re-interviewed Tyler without my husband or I being present, and again asked about his masturbation habit.  I told my children and my husband that the kids were not allowed to be interviewed at all anymore.

Soon thereafter, my spouse and I, along with our 3 children, stopped attending.

Here’s a bishop whose thoughts and probing questions were directed into the underpants of a minor.  The mother had forbidden it.  The bishop had committed to respect the parental direction.  He violated the trust of the parents.  He violated the privacy of a 16 year old.  He drove a family out of the church.

Youth Interviews?  Nope!  They’re Masturbation Interviews

It turns out that this practice is super common in the church, at least in the United States.  In fact, it may now be a universal practice for all bishops to go verbally probing into the panties of our 12 to 17 year old children.   Disgusting!!!

Orgasm Interviews

Today, I spoke with a past member of a stake presidency.  He said that his stake president instructed the bishops to ask explicit questions when someone confessed a sexual indiscretion.  How common is this?  I’ve now heard too many stories to think it’s isolated.  Do you really want your 16 year old to be asked about her orgasms, her boyfriends orgasms, amount of penetration,  and sexual positions?  Again despicable instructions from a stake president.  All without the knowledge of the parents and behind those damn closed doors, all alone.

Raising Up a Lying Generation

So, what’s a kid to do when she/he is asked a shocking question whose answer could be laden with guilt and shame.  Would lying be a strong possibility?  This weekend, I asked 43 people if they lied to their bishop during youth interviews.  31 said yes.  75% learned to lie during their masturbation interviews.

Daddy Adult Daughter Talk

A few hours ago, I had this conversation with one of my daughters.

Dad:  Were you ever asked inappropriate and uncomfortable questions during your bishop youth interviews?

Daughter:  Of course.

Dad:  Did you ever lie during those interviews?

Daughter:  Yes, but not always.

Daughter:  At BYU, the bishop asked very uncomfortable questions the first week of school.  I quit going to church. (She only attended BYU for 6 months.)

Dad:  Why did you stop going to church?

Daughter:  It was too uncomfortable to look at this man after what he had asked me?

This all came as a shock to me.  During my 4 years as a student at BYU, I was never asked about masturbation.  Just a simple, “Do you keep the law of chastity?”

Lying For Your Mission

Apparently, being masturbation-free is a requirement to receive a mission calling.  With all the peer pressure, parental pressure and cultural pressure, would a 17 year old lie in order to pass this requirement?  The coercion factors are certainly there.  But, I have no data.  Only this.  A recent mission president in my area is quoted as having said, “If I had to send missionaries home for masturbation, I’d have to send half of the kids home.”

Justification for Masturbation Interviews

Two people have now offered this reasoning, “The ordinances of the church must be protected.”

Really?  I’m calling BS and hypocrisy on this one.  Last year, there were over 200,000 converts to the church.  They entered the sacred waters of baptism.  How well did we do at protecting the ordinance of baptism from…..masturbators?  We did super poorly.  In fact, we did not protect this ordinance one wit.  The missionaries DO NOT teach that masturbation is a sin.  Why not?  Don’t we want to protect the ordinance from people who masturbate?  Nope.  We want baptisms.

Do we teach people that after their family is baptized, an untrained older man will take their 12 year old daughters behind closed doors and put his thoughts, words and probing questions into her panties?  All alone?  Without the new converts’ knowledge or permission?  Nope.  Why not?  We want baptisms.

Why the Masturbation Fixation?

When I was a kid, we had youth interviews.  Never once did I have a masturbation interview.  At BYU, they were bishop interviews.  No probing questions into my underwear.  When I was bishop, I conducted youth interviews.  Never once did I put my thoughts, words or any probing questions into the panties of a young girl.

So, why is it happening today?

We have a scriptural record detailing over 3,000 years of God’s dealings with His children on earth.  3,000 years of prophetic pronouncements, encouragements and warnings.  And…3,000 years of…silence…on…masturbation.  Total crickets.  Old Testament and New Testament—Nope & nope.  Book of Mormon—Nope.  It’s the most correct book, written for our day and contains the fullness of the gospel.  Yet, not a word on masturbation.  D&C?  That’s a big nope, too.  It contains the revelations of the Restoration of all things.  Masturbation is so important that God didn’t issue one single word of concern.  The Pearl of Great Price?  If ever there was to be a pearl of wisdom regarding masturbation interviews it should be in this gem.  Nope.  A complete home-run of nopes.

But, I haven’t mentioned the most important source of divine counsel and commandment…the words of our Savior.  By this point, I’m sure you are aware that even Jesus Christ didn’t associate any shame or guilt with this personal sexual practice.

So where did the church’s masturbation fixation originate?

Here’s a speculation.  In the last few years, the church has disavowed and condemned our past racist doctrine, teachings, policies and practices.  They were in place for most of the history of our church.  Where did they come from?  They were simply made up under the influence of the surrounding society.  No revelation from God.  Just made up by men.  So, that’s all I speculate.  Our masturbation concerns have been made up by men, heavily influenced by societal norms.

However, society stops way short of shaming a child, alone, behind closed doors.  To those outside the church, this practice is revolting.  Just as it is to me.

Following Christ’s Example

There are many who are highly critical of me for criticizing a practice found in the church.  They say that if I don’t like what the church is doing I ought to leave.

That’s the exact attitude of the religious leaders of Christ’s time.  A hallmark of the Savior’s ministry was criticism of His leaders.  Often, in very harsh terms.  They wanted him to shut up.  Ultimately, they did shut him up with execution.

Are we not told to emulate Christ’s example? Of course.  This is part of my attempt at discipleship.

P.S.

421 members have chosen to actively participate in the Law of Common Consent.  I urge you to consider it, too.  Click HERE for the link to the Common Consent Register.

 

Did You Orgasm?

OrgasmYesterday’s Dirty & Damaging Closed Door Counsel

For decades, Stake Presidents and Bishops counseled gay men to do something totally misguided.  Their recommendation to homosexual young men was to get married.  Once they were hitched and came face to face with a naked woman, their gayness would magically go away.

This uninspired guidance has resulted in many, many unhappy  marriages.  Heartache.  Divorce.  Broken families.  Today, we know that this was ridiculous and damaging advice coming from trusted Bishops and Stake Presidents.  Well meaning?  Probably.  Improper?  Absolutely.

The horrid advice of telling gay men to just get married, had a direct affect on MY family.  One of my daughters was engaged to a awesome man.  We all loved him and thought we knew him well.  Today, we still love him and count him as a great friend.  But, there was something that we did not know.  He was gay.  Bishops and Stake Presidents had counseled with him for years.  And guess what he was told.  MARRY SAM YOUNG’S DAUGHTER AND YOUR HOMOSEXUALITY WILL GO AWAY.  Yeah…that’s right.  A high church leader telling a gay man to marry MY daughter.  That was wrong.  My daughter was wronged.  Her fiancé was wronged.  I and my family were wronged.  All at the hands of the church.

Fortunately, ten days before the wedding bells were to ring, warning bells sounded instead.  The temple marriage was called off.  My daughter is now happily married to a heterosexual man.  My almost son-in-law is now happily married to a gay man.  In the end, all worked out as it should.  But, the damage to the psyche of all involved has taken a long time to heal.  If it has.

Decades ago, members should have been informed as to what counsel was being given to their gay kids.  Hopefully, we would have stood up and protested in order to protect our precious children.

Today’s Dirty & Damaging Closed Door Counsel

Bad things are going on with our children behind closed doors.  I thought I’d heard it all.  I hadn’t.  It’s sickening.

First, it is a common practice for 12 year old children, without their parents’ knowledge or consent to be questioned about masturbation.  One on one, all alone, with an older man.  This is a gross practice and should be called to a halt.

It has now come to my knowledge that many Bishops and Stake Presidents take the interview license, that we have allowed them, to a new level of depravity.  How would you like your 16 year old daughter to be asked, “Do you orgasm when you masturbate?”

Or try this one on for size.  Your 17 year old daughter confesses sex with a young man.  The bishop wants details.  “How many times did you orgasm?”  “Did your boyfriend orgasm?”  “How did he orgasm?”  “What kind of sexual positions were involved?”

What kind of crap is this?  All going on behind the closed doors of our chapels.

These kinds of questions are outrageous.  They are pornographic.  It causes lasting shame and guilt.  The harm done often persists into sexual relationships after marriage.

How do I know that masturbation is being discussed with 12 year olds all the way to decades-old members?  My own children have told me so.  I have openly asked many friends who have shared details of their masturbation interviews .

How do I know that orgasms and sexual positions are being discussed?  Well, my kids are NOT the source of this information.  I haven’t dared ask them yet.  If it was discussed with them, I’m going to be DAMN angry!  But, I have asked my friends.   When I posted my question, it received more comments than almost any other post I’ve ever made.

Until one week ago, I had no idea that these sexual details were being discussed with our kids…or adults for that matter.   And I was a Bishop for 5 years, for heaven’s sake.  So, why would I ask my friends if orgasms had ever been the topic of a bishop’s interview?  On last week’s post criticizing the practice of masturbation interviews, two people mentioned all the other stuff they were asked about.

Just like the horrid counsel to gay men to get married, these detailed sexual interviews MUST STOP!!!

I know that many who read this will say, “I was never asked, so this isn’t happening.”  I know there are Bishops who will say, “I never asked these questions, so it isn’t happening.”  Well fine.  For your reading pleasure or disgust, I’ve listed a smattering of responses below.

What To Do

I can’t believe that any good member, especially a parent, would bury their head in the sand and sit idly by.  These are your kids.  This is our church.  This is not the church of the Apostles.  Nor is it the church of the Bishops and Stake Presidents.  It’s the Church of Jesus Christ.  It’s also the church of its members, the Latter-day Saints.  Jesus has given us, the rank and file member, the right and responsibility to be intimately involved in the governance of His church.  Our Savior called it the Law of Common Consent.

Here are some suggestions.  These practices can only be fixed if we bring them to light.  Talk about them.  DON’T LET YOUR CHILD OR GRANDCHILD BE A VICTIM.

  • Talk to your church friends about the potential interview damage to our children.
  • Talk to your adolescent and grown children.
  • Talk to the local leaders, Relief Society Presidents, EQ Presidents, HP Group Leaders, YM & YW Presidents.
  • Talk to your Bishops and Stake Presidents.

Quid Pro Quo

The church has produced a pamphlet entitled “For The Strength of Youth.”  It is designed to help all members know the standards of the church.

I’m responding with my own pamphlet “For the Protection of Youth.”  It is designed to let all leaders understand the strict license they can take with our children.

For the Protection of Youth

  1. No interviews with minors without the explicit consent of the parents.
  2. No one-on-one interviews behind closed doors. Either a parent is to be in the room or second adult, approved by the parents.
  3. No questions about masturbation…ever!
  4. No questions about orgasm, sexual positions, or any other detailed sexual matters…ever!
  5. No shaming lessons about chewed gum, licked cupcake, etc.
  6. No lessons about violation of chastity being next to murder in gravity.
  7. No lessons intimating that a person is better dead chaste, than alive and unchaste.

Take back and embrace Christ’s gospel of Common Consent.  For the sake of your children.  For the sake of your grandchildren.  For the sake of following the Savior.

Testimonials of Inappropriate Bishop and Stake President Interviews

I posted the following question on Facebook.

“In a recent thread, 2 people said that they were asked about their ORGASMS during bishop interviews or in church courts. What the hell!!!  How did I miss out on this stuff while I served as bishop?  I’m super glad that I did.  Bare shoulders are NOT pornographic. Questioning a woman about her orgasms IS pornographic.  I know that it’s common for priesthood leaders to ask about masturbation. But, I had never heard of orgasmic queries. So, here’s my question, were you ever asked about orgasms in a bishop’s interview or in a disciplinary council?  If so, how old were you?

Here are some of the responses.

Woman:  Two different bishops over the course of my life have asked me specifically about orgasm. The first time, I was 12, and it was just like, a youth interview that that bishop did regularly with all of the youth in our ward.  He asked about masturbation, and then specifically about orgasm, even after I answered “no” to the first question. 

The second bishop who asked me this question was when I was 21 or so, and I had turned to my singles ward bishop because I had been advised, and believed he would help me deal with the aftermath of (what I had recently come to understand had been) an emotionally, physically, and sexually *abusive* relationship. 

Instead of support and counsel, he asked me if I had ever had an orgasm from the “contact” during that relationship, and when I was honest with him that I had (as happens with many MANY survivors) he instructed me that I needed to go through the repentance process, for “my part” in what had happened.

Woman:  Yes.  In disciplinary council…it was terrible!

Man:  I was asked this as a 15 year old boy by my bishop…..I hated going to him.

Woman:  This happened when I was in my mid 20s, had 4 babies under 5, and was grieving my husband’s infidelity. It almost killed me:  My husband had an affair early in our marriage. Our ward split during his year of difellowship & the New bishop wanted to know every detail of their sexual contacts: positions, physical locations, number of orgasms. You name it. And he wanted me to be there while this was discussed “so that we are all on the same page.” Our sexual relationship never recovered & much of the reason was that six months of voyeuristic invasion & the terrible humiliation I was subjected to. I don’t want anyone else to suffer this.  (Sam:  This is an egregious example of the dreadful damage probing interviews can cause.)

Man:  Yes.  I was 12 or 13.

Woman:  I had a bishop ask me if I reached orgasm. I was a teenager. Sick, sick, sick.

Woman:  I am a woman and was asked about orgasms by 2 separate bishops in interviews. Once in high school and once in college (that same bishop commented on my shirt and how it was too revealing). I was also asked very detailed, inappropriate questions that I didn’t realize were inappropriate until much later after going to therapy.

Man:  Oh yeah. My Bishop did. That was a routine part of the masturbation confession.

Woman:  15 years old. My bishop asked about my boyfriend’s orgasm then asked if I had reached orgasm, if I had enjoyed it or felt guilty, the whole shebang.  It’s been more than 10 years since this, I’ve been married for 6 years, and I’m JUST getting to a point of having a healthy and happy relationship with sex and my body. These people are untrained and do lasting damage because of their lack of knowledge. Something has to change.

Woman:   I was 17 when I was asked. In front of a bunch of men too. The most humiliating experience of my life.

Man:  I had a Bishop ask where I had “finished” meaning in someone’s mouth, hand, etc…

Woman:  Oh this definitely happened. It happened to me as a youth and as an adult, like so often and commonplace that I thought it irrelevant in this thread.  It happened after I was raped at BYU but I was so traumatized by the rape that I don’t remember being able to answer his questions at all.

Woman:  I was called into a bishop’s interview. He asked me how my love life was.
I confessed to ‘messing around’ with a guy I really loved.  I was still a virgin though, because you know, no sex!  My bishop asked me to provide details. I obediently told my bishop, blushing the entire time.  I was asked about having an orgasm. I had. He wanted to know if the guy had. He had.

Man:  Had a friend tell me in his missionary application interview he came forth and confessed to intercourse. The bishop asked him if he achieved orgasim. He was shocked and asked him if it mattered. The bishop replied saying it did matter because it would weigh on his disicion of his worthiness.

Women:  It happened to me about a month ago while I was meeting with my Stake President in conjunction with asking for a Temple Sealing Cancellation from my predatory ex.

Woman:  After my mission I had a little affair with a women!  It was wonderful!  It resulted in a disciplinary council.   In that court was my Bishop plus 11 other men. The questions they asked me were horrific!!  I had one guy even asked how two women could have sex! How many times….. Where we had sex. And…. if I had an orgasm.  I left feeling like the most horrible person on earth.  I was sooooo embarrassed. I couldn’t hardly talk.

Man:  I was very lucky in having pretty darn good bishops all my life. One did tell me that my mission would make me straight, but I think he meant well (and I’m glad I went anyhow). But I’ve heard too many horror stories about prurient, over-detailed interrogations to believe that it’s a tiny problem.

Woman:  Detailed–DETAILED–answers needed for the court of “love.” Positions, types, frequency, everything.

Woman:  Yes, I was.. like that made the difference if I was worthy or not. If the guy orgasimed it was fine.. I just could not. So freaking ridiculous.

Woman:  Yes. I was 19 years old

Man:   In high school my bishop asked me if I ejaculated when my girlfriend had her hand in my pants. I hadn’t but I wasn’t sure so I said yes. I wasn’t able to take the sacrament for months because of my response. I dealt with months of shame for about 10 seconds of touching in the wrong place. So ridiculous.

Woman:   I was during a “court of love”. It was 8 years ago and I pushed back about why it mattered.  It was dropped.  It also bothered me greatly.

P.S.

400 members have chosen to actively participate in the Law of Common Consent.  I urge you to consider it, too.  Click HERE for the link to the Common Consent Register.

Happy 12th Birthday! Now, Let Me Ask….

BirthdayPrincess

….Do You Masturbate?

What kind of a sick and twisted birthday question is that for a 12 year old kid?

What kind…you ask?  Why it’s the birthday present that is given to our children every year in the only true and living church.  The Mormon church.  My church.  And I’m ashamed of it.

We don’t stop there.  Half birthdays are also celebrated with the very same gift.

Happy birthday!  It’s that wonderful time again.  Time to be isolated in a small room, alone, except for an older man, behind closed doors.

Happy, birthday!  Do you masturbate?

Happy, happy birthday!!  Oh, you don’t know what that means?  Let me explain.

Happy, happy, happy birthday!!!  Do you touch yourself down there?

Happy, happy, happy, happy birthday!  Oh, where’s down there?  I mean down there, right between your legs.

So…You Don’t Believe This is Happening to Our Kids?

The church has changed in many ways since I grew up.  As a youth, never once was I asked about masturbation by a bishop, stake president, or their counselors.  Never once during my 5 years as bishop did I ask any kids or adults if they engaged in masturbation

Two months ago, I asked one of my youngest daughters if this question had ever been asked during her youth interviews.  “All the time.”  Crap!  I had no idea.

Last year, a good friend of the family sat in on her 12 year old daughter’s youth interview.  She had given instructions to the bishop that no interview should be conducted alone with her child.  And…that masturbation was not to be discussed.  The meeting went fine until…”When you view media, do you touch yourself down there?”  Mom terminated the interview.  Her little girl was left confused about the question.

Last year I asked my local ward and stake leaders if they queried kids about masturbation.  I couldn’t get a straight answer.

Real Life Happy-Birthday-Interview Stories

Listen and see if you want your children to have these experiences.  Read and see if you are proud of our LDS masturbation meetings.

Our interview practices do damage to both boys and girls.  I’m not an expert, but after discussing with lot’s of folks, I’d say the harm is actually more severe with our daughters.

Girl:

I was kind of surprised and extremely self conscious.  Masturbation was never really emphasized with girls.  Somehow it never occurred to me that I wasn’t supposed to  do it until this old dude, I barely knew, asked me about it at my birthday interview.  So, of course, I lied.

Girl:

I still remember being as young as 10 and being challenged by a bishop about masturbation. I believe, till this day, that those conversations are borderline sexual assault. What bothers me most is a bishop, unsolicited, would go on to explain masturbation to me.

Boy:

I was asked about it as I graduated from primary.  He asked about girls, etc.  I had no experience and remember being confused at the questions.  After that, I avoided interviews like the plague.

Girl:

I lived in a very conservative Mormon bubble.  When I was 16, my bishop, who just so happened to be my uncle, called me in for an interview.  I was dating a boy from another ward and I think he wanted to make sure we were keeping things rated PG.  He asked me straight out about masturbation.  I was so naive at the time that I thought only boys could masturbate.  I did’t know girls could.  When he questioned me about it, I was mortified!  Did he think I knew about my boyfriend’s private time?  He laughed.  He actually laughed and said I should stop pretending that I hadn’t touched my self “down there.”  Again, I really did not know I could!  I didn’t know how or where or anything about it!  He didn’t believe me, kept pushing for information and started getting graphic!!!  So, I cried.  I think he realized I was being honest and stopped the conversation abruptly.  He didn’t apologize for anything and told me to not go exploring on myself.  I never told my parents this, since my dad was the stake president and was never home.  This man was my uncle and would be over at my house with his family every Sunday for dinner and our families would vacation together.  I refused to accept any more interviews with him.  Crazy stuff, huh.  (Sam:  Nope, it’s not crazy stuff.  It’s sick and twisted stuff.)

My oldest daughter is about to turn 12 and the last thing I want is to have her mind filled with shame and guilt and go through “worthiness” interviews like mine.

Girl:

When I was 12, I was pulled into the Bishop’s office during mutual and asked all kinds of sexual questions, very detailed questions.  He also asked me about all my beehive friends, and if I knew if they were doing anything immoral.  I later found out that there was a rumor that the beehive class was sexually active, and he was going to find out the truth.  I am still traumatized from that experience.  If only I could go back in time.

I should also add that he cried the entire time he was asking me those questions.  Imagine a grown man with tears streaming down his face, asking a 12 year old girl if she’s ever touched a penis.  It’s actually pretty comical thinking about it.  (Sam:  It’s inexcusable, tragic, super dangerous and should never be allowed to happen!!!)

Girl:

I was asked by my stake president when I was in 8th grade and doing baptisms for the dead with my cousins.  It was a small Mormon town.  He was also my 8th grade history & English teacher, and principal of my intermediate school.  I wasn’t sure what he meant, but I knew enough to be mortified.  An older, more worldly cousin warned me to say “no” to anything he asked.  Overall, it was a traumatic experience.  I couldn’t bear to look him in the eye or even answer a question in class after that.

Boy:

Never remember being asked about it.  I was always the one who brought it up.  My Bishop, when I was like 16, said, “Ummmm, I wouldn’t worry about it.  I don’t think it will keep you out of the Celestial Kingdom.  I think it was a great attitude.  Sadly, I didn’t believe him and went on to torture myself with shame.

Girl:

My experience with a bishop wasn’t asking about masturbation, but me confessing on my 16th birthday. I waited knowing I would be called I’m for an interview. I was a scared 16 yr old telling a man about masturbation. He requested I not partake of the sacrament.

We got a new bishop a couple Sundays later and I had to talk about it all again with the new bishop, except for this time around, he called me in one Tuesday night and said he talked to the stake president and he needed to know if when I masturbated, I stuck my fingers inside. I was so embarrassed and ashamed of myself. During my transition I tried to think of anything that happened to me personally, and it came to me… that was none of his business. What does it matter to him? As a 16 yr old, I was trying to be obedient. (Sam: This is so horrid. Why would any parent risk such abusive treatment of their precious child? I am so sorry.)

Girl:

I was DEFINITELY asked about masturbation.  This is a major trauma from my adolescent age.  I felt guilty ALL…THE…TIME.  Like there was something really wrong with me cause I couldn’t stop the urges.  So frustrating to even think about now.  Just ridiculous.

Girl:

Masturbation shame is a reason behind suicides in the church.  Mark my words.  Nobody talks about it, but it’s true.

Girl:

Sadly, so many of us have a story to tell.  I’ve wondered many times what my teens and 20s would have been like without the heavy burden of guilt and shame I carried thanks to several bishops who may as well have had revolving doors to their offices.  Shame on them for their lack of spiritual sensitivity and discernment.  I developed an eating disorder in my teens as a way of coping with the pent-up sexual energy in my body.  The bingeing/purging ended when my eyes were open to the TRUTH at age thirty.  I sure wish someone would have tried to enlighten me sooner.  It would have made all the difference for me.  Thank you, Sam, for your boldness and courage in bringing attention to these matters.  (Sam:  Thank you my friend for sharing your story.  I was never asked about masturbation as a kid.  You should never have been asked either.  So sorry about that.)

Boy:

My stake president asked me, “Are you viewing anything in connection with masturbation?  I said, “Well, we have cable television.”  Then he told me, “If you do not overcome this, the day will come when you will not be worth a damn…to anyone.”  I already felt embarrassment and shame over this.  I  kind of suppressed the horrible feelings from his words.  But, this anger is now finally coming out years later.  For a certain kind of personality type, a statement like that could drive someone to suicide.

Girl:

I enjoyed “self love” all throughout my childhood without knowing what I was doing exactly.  As a pre-teen, I started to worry that something was wrong with me because in seminary and Sunday School I would hear references to “touching yourself.”  But, it was only directed towards the boys, not the girls.  I thought maybe something was wrong with my anatomy!  They wouldn’t even acknowledge that it was a pleasure girls could feel, all be it wrong and everything.

Then, a few years later in young women’s, a leader addressed the issue and told us that it was a sin you could not repent of unless you confessed to your bishop.  I learned that same in seminary.  I felt so horrible and for about a year I tried to stop.  I finally got the courage to call my bishop.  As a 16 year old girl, I drove myself to meet with an older man and talk about my sexuality.  So messed up.  He handled it well, but the whole situation was terrible.  I left feeling like I was the only girl to have ever confessed such a terrible sin.  Still to this day, when I see him I feel so much shame and awkwardness.

Of course, I couldn’t keep from doing the deed forever.  So, when I dreaded visiting him again, I talked to my mom.  She told me I didn’t need to confess next time and it was OK.  WHY DID SHE WAIT?!!!  She could have saved me from so much guilt and shame..Let alone putting myself in a very dangerous situation.

Now as an adult I’m so grateful I masturbated.  It means I knew what an orgasm felt like before getting married.  I could expect to feel pleasure from my husband and let him know what I liked!  I told all my married friends to figure it out before they got married.  Women should be proud of their pleasure and embrace every chance they can get to feel an orgasm.  It doesn’t always come easy for us!

When I think back to that experience in high school, I’m angry at a lot of people.  Especially my mom.  How could she have not been more concerned when she found out that I had met in secret with an older man?!  And discussed these things?  It’s so backwards.  (Sam:  I cried when at your question, Why did she wait?)

Mom About Her Son:

My Older son always talks about how much he hated those question.  I know a lot of kids feel really shamed by them.  I know a lot of adult members have stilted sex lives because sexual pleasure is made to sound so shameful.  It’s a travesty.

Girl:

I was DEFINITELY asked.  This is a major part of trauma from my adolescent age.  I felt guilty ALL…THE…TIME.  Like there was something really wrong with me cause I could stop the urges.  So frustrating to even think about now.  Just ridiculous.

Girl:

When I was in my teens, I actually did masturbate.  I felt like I was a freak of nature and felt so guilty.  So, I went in to “confess.”  I was told by my bishop, a PHD educated man, that if I didn’t stop, I’d turn into a lesbian.  Keep in mind, this was in the 70’s when it was totally NOT ok to be LGBTQ!  The fear and shame affected my hetero sex life and frankly still does.  This from a church led by direct revelation?  Of course, I was told to read “The Miracle of Forgiveness.”

Girl:

I think this is an important conversation that the Church needs to be having.  When I was in Beehives (1980-ish), the YW saw the video “Morality for Youth.”  Then we were all individually interviewed about “necking, petting and masturbation.”  Having figured masturbation out a few years earlier, I was shocked to learn that I was sinning.  I came clean with the bishop, who may have been more surprised than I was.  He gave me a humiliating scolding that I never forgot.  I struggle to be good, but would inevitably slip up.  However, after that first mortifying confession, I never admitted to it again.  I just figured I would cut out the middle man and go straight to God with any necessary repentance.  I felt sometimes guilty for not fessing up, which contributed to an overall feeling of unworthiness that followed me for a long, long time.  Learning that my children were getting drilled about masturbation in their interviews is one of the several things that finally pushed me away from the Church.

Girl:

I had a bishop at Ricks College make me sit next to him during an interview as he told me about HIS masturbation problem.  Masturbation was not the reason I was there.  I was there for getting caught with alcohol.  Maybe he was being nice and trying to relate with me.

Other Posts on This Appalling Practice

Behind Closed Doors–Don’t Let It Happen.  Click HERE.

I’m Going to Leave Before They Get Their Hands on My Baby Daughter.  Click HERE.

“I’m Going to Leave Before They Get Their Hands on My Baby Daughter”

danger

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

  1. Don’t let your child be interviewed without your permission.
  2. Be present, in the closed door room, during the interview.
  3. 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.
  4. Inform your child that they are to let you know whenever any church leader requests a meeting with them.
  5. 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.