This afternoon, I sent this e-mail to my Stake President and Bishop. Both are very good men.
Dear President ______ and Bishop __________,
Tonight, I’m having an interview regarding the petition initiative: Protect The Children–Stop Mormon Masturbation Interviews.
I have been saying that I believed these questions were no longer being asked in our stake. However, I was just sent a copy of a memo from the Seventies. It gives instructions that “worthiness interviews need to be specific and explicit.”
As a result, I’d like to ask the question again. Are stake and ward leaders following this instruction to pose “specific and explicit” sexual questions to our children, anywhere in the age range from 11 to 17?
Tons of people have reported that this is happening all over the church. Tonight, I’d like to confirm in advance of the interview whether or not it is happening in our stake.
As always, thanks for all you do,
To all who read this: Join 1,917 Others to Protect our Children
SIGN…THE…PETITION! Click HERE.
Testimonials of masturbation interviews. Click HERE.
Testimonials of interviews about orgasm and sexual positions. Click HERE.
How to talk to your kids about masturbation. Click HERE.
Is masturbation a sin? Click HERE.
11 thoughts on “Is It Happening in My Stake?”
It is still sex abuse and perverted if they are 18 or older. The same questioning is perverted child sex abuse if the questioned kids are under 18. So, it is sex abuse in either age case – perverted. Not of Jesus… So, who and what is it of then?
LikeLiked by 1 person
The only way for parents to protect their child is to not allow the interviews in the first place. If they are too craven to do that the minimum action is to insist they be present for interviews.
LikeLiked by 2 people
Your taking too broad approach with this assumption. Bishops aren’t often focusing on masterbation by itself (not are they asked to). I am a current bishop and asking if kids masterbate is not common at all (never for me). But asking about addictive behaviors is. Such as pornography viewing on a regular basis. Masterbation amongst teens is rare if not paired with stimulating pictures or video. Masterbation is usually a byproduct of addictive behavior (not always). Curbing addictions while in their youth wasn’t happening before a decade ago. And they carried that with them into adulthood and future relationships and is a huge catalyst for negative disruption in marriage and family. Kids are opening up more and more with their parents but too often holding back.
Random self gratification (unrelated to porn) is a rare event but when it happens I doubt many bishops are jumping down anyone’s throat.
And I always ask kids parents if they want to participate but not as much when they are teens as I’ve found they don’t want to discuss their porn habits in front of mom. I strongly encourage them to talk to mom/dad however.
In short, don’t make the wrong assumption that bishops are only asking about kids masterbation habits alone. It’s inaccurate.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Hi B.T., Thanks for joining the conversation. I see many problems with this practice. 1) The bishops and counselors asking these questions have no formal training on dealing in sexuality with children. These are so many risks to the kids. 2) It takes place behind closed doors, one on one, a man all alone with a child. That should never happen. 3) There are many highly negative consequences that are occurring from these sexual interviews. I’ve documented tons of them. 4) I would NEVER allow my children to be questioned about masturbation. I was incensed to find out that it happened to my daughters. 5) Where is the transparency? We don’t know where or when this practice originated. We don’t know what directives have been given to bishops. It appears that its a spin of the roulette wheel whether or not this is happening in a particular ward or stake. So, I have to ask myself, “Are you a rogue bishop who has taken it upon himself to delve into the mastubatory practices of kids. Starting at 11 years old? Or were you instructed by the stake president to do it?
Frankly, I’d be very careful if I were you. Asking sexual questions of a child behind closed doors is not tolerated by society at large. You are taking on the risk of a parent’s outrage and filing suit. I can’t imagine the church continuing to uphold this interview practice. If they do at all. Since the church has not come out with a public statement about sexual interviews, they have plausible deniability. You do not.
In the meantime, you are doing untold damage to the kids you are shaming. In invite you to stop it and sign the petition.
Now…thank you for your service. More than any other calling in the church, bishops are the ones who by far carry the heaviest burden.
All my very best wishes to you, Sam
Thanks for the reply Sam but you just restated what has already been said by you and not addressing anything I mentioned.
Done are the days where we don’t talk more openly about sexuality (in a healthy manner). Your version of the past (where we don’t discuss it and pretend it’s nobodys business) is far more damaging to the youth than what you think is happening today. Parents and church leaders never discussed sexuality in the past and that resulted in multiple generations of youth becoming addicted to pornography and associated self gratification and unnecessary guilt, ruining their lives/marriages today as adults.
If a Bishop is indeed asking detailed questions about youth sexuality then they are in the wrong. But the church itself is not asking Bishops to do that.
You’re going after what you call “rogue” bishops that are an extreme minority and nothing more.
Your problem isn’t about youth being asked questions alone behind closed doors but the veracity of Bishops having access and seeking divine assistance.
You also need to be very careful about the comments people are giving you. I’m guessing the grand majority of those people commenting about personal experiences from these types of interviews have angry or negative feelings already towards the church and therefore have slanted their stories. Doesn’t mean bishops all over the world aren’t making mistakes but the ”formal training” excuse is benign because it’s designed that way so we men can rely more on our HF than ourselves.
It’s great that you’re advocating change, because change rooted from members experiences can be so valuable but beware of the fallacy of the reason why. Is it to truly enact change or is it to seek gratification/retribution from our anger.
I’m not sure where you fall but have seen so many times where people hang their hat on “righteous/higher road” causes yet if you follow the string it has nothing to do with love or Christ- like living and more to do with their anger towards the church.
I do think your intentions are good just want to make sure im adding to a more neutral dialogue.
All the best in your efforts to increase your faith in a Christ and help other to do the same
As a therapist and processional working with treating child sexual abuse, I would like to weigh in on your comments. You associate masturbation with pornography and addictive behaviors. For many children, especially girls, mastubation is not necessarily linked to viewing pornography. Furthermore, we know that masturbation for most youth and adults is a normative, healthy, activity that helps children learn about thier bodies and their sexual responses in a safe and nonexploitive way. Most children and adults masturbate at least some times. Youth that have never mastubates often have a more difficult time adjusting to sexuality in committed intimate relationships. (Very common problem among LDS temple married couples). Second, most mastuebation and pornography use is not addictive behavior. It is not the same as heroin use or alcoholism. In fact sexual addiction and prom addiction are not listed in the DSM-V as addictions at all, and many therapists have grave concerns with the Church labeling anyone who occasionally views porn or who masturbates as addicts. Numerous accounts of adults being automatically sent to the church’s twelve step program for admitting to occasional mastication or porn use are well documented and harmful. What we understand is that the guilt and shame created by the church claiming athat the normal behavior of non-compulsive masturbation as a sin and “self-abuse” and an addiction is extremely harmful in the lives of its youth and adults. Similarly, viewing phonographs in a non-compulsive manner is demonized and equated with “sexual addiction” and treated with condemnation and shame. Numerous men and a few women have been sent to addiction recovery meetings for occasional viewing pornography. This is wrong and harmful therapeutically and theologically. (For further info see Mormon mental health association).
A very small segment of the population may need mental health treatment to manage truely compulsive sexual behaviors. But many LDS youth and adults could benefit from mental health treatment to manage the shame and spiritual abuse they endured from over zealous and misinfomed policies and practices of LDS church leaders. Such leaders are disingenuous as they never show their own experiences with attempting to follow LDS teachings of “moral purity” nor how doing so lead or caused difficulty in establishing and maintaining healthy adult committed intimate relationships. Only therapists hear the horror stories of how the Church teachings about sexual sin and avoidance of discussing healthy intimacy have ravaged the lives of so many faithful saints. We don’t discuss consent, sexual abuse, healthy sexuality. The Church demonizes and actively discriminates against LGBTQ+ members and youth and their children despite nearly all wards having multiple adults and children who are best defined as LGBTQ.
Now on to untrained bishops inappropriately addressing child sexual abuse. Given that 1:4 girls and approximately 1:8 boys experience some sort of sexual abuse in childhood and nearly all women will recall some sort of unwelcome sexual touching or inappropriate sexual advances by men in their lifetime, the new interview standards for missionaries which asks if a person was touched in a sexual manner with no directions about how to address abuse, are profoundly problematic. Bishops routinely mistake sexual abuse / assault as consensual sexual contact and define it as sin needing repentance. Bishops are unqualified to identify or counsel victims of sexual abuse and risk psychosocial damage and legal jeopordy by mishandling such cases. Every Bishop will bave sexual abuse /assault victims in his ward and few bishops are trained and qualified to respond appropriately to allegations or disclosure of abuse and even if professionally qualified, they have a conflict of interest and dual relationship in addressing such in depth. Bishops can and should understand and be trained in mandated reporting laws and requirements and can get assistance from the church in appropriately reporting child abuse and appropriately maintaining clergy / member confidentiality, but this is not the focus of the current church policy and rhetoric about sexuality.
This outreach to ask the church to stop asking about masturbation and to examine its policies about interviewing children about sexual issues is merited. The new focus of sharing the missionary interview questions with youth to prepare them for missions includes language that condemns masturbation and treats normative sexual experiences in childhood as serious sin and pathologizes normative behaviors that most youth will engage in as addiction and sin and requires a year abstinence from such to qualify for missionary service. This doubling down on sexual behaviors will encourage bishops to be more probing and extensive in interviews and create more shame for normative behaviors. Youth will learn to lie to leaders or experience significant shame for healthy and developmentally appropriate behaviors. The interview standards define LGBTQ as sin disregarding scientific and experiential evidence that sexual orientation and gender identity are biological and that attempts at repentance and appeals to God for Change are demonstrated to be ineffective.
Parents have the right to ask bishops not to question their children about sexuality just as a youth should have the right to ask to speak to a bishop alone. Bishops can be the first person a youth can trust to reveal sexual abuse and if they were trained to respond correctly could be an important safety net for children and victims of assault.
I feel for you bishops. Even if you are trying to make these annual or biannual interviews with the youth something other than a masterbation confession, it is currently not possible to do, even if you have convinced yourself otherwise. All children of TBMs that you interview know it. Every single one of them knows it. If there is one that doesn’t know it, that’s not how church Authorities would have it be. Again, that’s even if you think you have creative ideas as to how to make the interviews positive, happy occasions. Or even if you are looking for ways to seek inspiration from HF. The most effective way I know to changing this is to not allow church officials to receive confession of sexual acts. Or perhaps only receive it the confessor remains anonymous.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Great commentary. Thanks. I agree with so much of what you said. I too agree that occasional porn watching and masterbation isnt addictive. Hence, the word “occastional”.
Because something isnt listed on the DSM-V means so very little. Experiencial evidence counters that old thinking and so does the reaction in the prefrontal cortex say differently. If large amounts of dopamine are being dumped on the brain when viewing porn then addiction is more likely.
Also, this statement is just not true—“The interview standards define LGBTQ as sin disregarding scientific and experiential evidence that sexual orientation and gender identity are biological and that attempts at repentance and appeals to God for Change are demonstrated to be ineffective.” Nowhere does the church today say being LGBTQ is sinful but rather having sexual relations as such is.
Nowhere does it state that masterbation at any level will prevent someone from going on a mission.
And bishops do receive instruction on how to report abuse of any kind.
More than ever bishops are encouraged to send members to therapy and not tackle the intricacies of mental health, addiction, and abuse alone.
I’m more concerned about mental health professionals advocating gratifying yourself sexually and viewing pornography occasionally than I am the rarity of a bishop hammering down on someone for occasional masturbation.
Petitions for Church leaders to stop asking about masturbation is an anomaly.
I do however advocate healthier dialogue conversation and forum about sexuality with our youth.
LikeLiked by 1 person
BT, I recognize that your reply was directed more towards Tim’s reply, but I still want to respond. The problem with the situation, at least as it pertains to the angle presented in this blog, isn’t in how a bishop goes about addressing matters of sexuality or what his views (or the views of church Authorities) are on disciplenary action. The problem is the largely untold awkwardness, stress and trama, etc that comes upon the heart and mind of the individual being interviewed. Looking back at the interviews various bishops had with me, all of them were positive and caring. But the underlying reason for these interviews was clear, and the accompanying evil effects do not go away just because the bishop thinks he is doing his job well. I agree with Sam, you are doing more damage than you know. That damage begins the moment your executive secretary contacts the 12-yr old child and the child walks over the threshold to the bishops office. Before you’ve even said a word.
Thanks for responding.
However, I don’t buy it fully. Absolutely there is some apprehension that goes on in a child’s mind when an appointment is set with them to see the bishop. If we approach every adult interaction with a young man or woman as “traumatic” for the child then teachers could never pull aside their students to discuss behavioral challenges or low grades or parents wanting to talk to kids about sex or other challenges in their life. All of those interactions make a child anxious/nervous. They did for me all the time. It’s ok for a kid to feel nervous about meeting with an adult/bishop.
Adults must have a healthy interaction with children and bishops are no exception. Asking questions to find how we can help them is ok. Bishops should not be imposing guilt or shame but helping kids and ward members process through the guilt and shame they may already feel so they can not harbor that, carry that and allow it to affect them the rest of their lives
I’m sorry your experience was negative but just because a bishop asks a young person about their experiences with chasity doesn’t mean it’s abuse or causing PTSD.
LikeLiked by 1 person