Mormon bishops are asking kids about their sex lives. It’s creepy. It’s intrusive. It’s harmful. And the Church can and should do more to put a stop to it.
Here’s one father’s story:
My [son] Jeffie entered. The door was closed. I waited. Within a few minutes the bishop’s door opened. My flustered son rushed to my side. “Dad, he asked if I have ever had sex with another boy. Then he asked if I masturbated.”
I was livid. No one has a right to interrogate my child in this way. I confronted the bishop. Leaned over his desk and shouted, “If you ever ask those questions to my kids again, I’ll beat you to a pulp.” I walked out the chapel door and never returned.
In another case, a bishop found out a 17-year-old girl was sexually active with her boyfriend… and then wanted 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.
Sam Young is a former Mormon bishop — and still a practicing Mormon — who never asked children about these things, and he’s leading the charge to inform parents that this is happening and to stop Church leaders from doing it.
A couple of days ago, he sent an email to the leaders of the Houston Texas South Stake, not because there are any reports that they’re asking these intrusive questions, but because he wants to make sure they never start:
A few months ago, I discovered something disturbing. It happened to my daughter when she was 12 years old. During a bishop’s youth interview she was asked about masturbation. Even though she had no idea what it meant, she was embarrassed. After the interview, she asked her friends. They weren’t familiar with the term either. She googled it. Of course, up popped pornographic images and descriptions. Effectively, my daughter was introduced to masturbation and pornography by the bishop. I asked if this question was ever posed again during her YW years. She [responded]: “All the time!”
I was outraged. I had no idea these questions were being asked. My daughter’s innocence was violated. My rights and responsibility to protect my child were abrogated and circumvented.
Since finding out about my daughter’s experience, I have become aware that this is still happening to children throughout the church. Many members have reported the harm, the shame and the lasting damage they have endured from these questions.
As a young man, I was never asked invasive sexual questions. I served as a bishop for 5 years. Never once did I ask any child or adult about masturbation.
Young says he’s heard similar stories from kids as young as 8. His petition to protect children from “Mormon Masturbation Interviews” includes a list of the consequences that have come from kids being asked about their sexual habits by religious leaders, based on what they said years later.
2. Attempted suicide.
3. Suicidal ideation.
4. Inappropriate shame and guilt.
5. Childhood filled with self loathing.
6. Adulthood filled with self loathing.
7. Normalising children to sexual questions by adult men. (Grooming)
8. Sexual abuse. (Pedophilia)
9. Impaired sexual relations after marriage.
10. Years of recovery from childhood shaming. Often lasting decades.
Young then makes his request:
We call on the LDS Church to immediately cease the practice of subjecting children to questions about masturbation, orgasm, ejaculation, sexual positions or or anything else of a sexual nature. This applies to all children up to and including age 17.
We call on the LDS Church to publicly disavow this practice.
We call on the LDS Church to insure that all congregational leaders, as well the general membership, are informed that this practice is prohibited.
Last night, I asked Young why bishops would ask these questions. Was it a kind of confession, so that the bishops could warn them of the consequences of sin? Not necessarily, he said. Some of them may just be continuing a tradition, if they were asked the questions as a child. In some cases, however, they’re asked to do so by the stake presidents. Page 4 of this leaked document tells leaders to be “specific and explicit” in the “worthiness interviews.”
If the leaders of the Mormon Church find this inappropriate, then they should make it explicitly clear to all bishops. Don’t ask. Say whatever regressive things you must about sex, but stop intruding upon the sex lives of children who weren’t asking you for advice.
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