This is an issue that really needs to be brought to light. I had an experience as a 17 year old, having to confess to my bishop that I had been sexually active. The level of awkwardness, telling this to a stranger in his mid-thirties, will forever be etched in my mind. Now I was truly a "good girl"; I had never tasted alcohol, nearly a straight A student, read my scriptures every day, went to church each week and really truly believed. This was my one downfall..... After leaving there with a stack of literature that I was assigned to read, promising never to be such a naughty girl again (but making appointments each week to report to him, just in case I was), I had never really felt so low and hopeless. I DID stay true to my promise, only a few weeks later to discover I was pregnant. When I went back to report, his response was "you promised you weren't going to do that again! What is this going to do to your mother?" Not, "oh you poor, young, inexperienced CHILD. You have a longgggg road ahead of you." (Having a daughter now that is exactly the age I was when I conceived her, I cannot imagine a stranger treating her this way). I then went through all the motions of repentance; not being allowed to pray in public (wth????), not being allowed to take the sacrament; etc. Have you read "The Scarlet Letter"???? That was seriously how I felt. I didn't need a big "A" pinned to my chest, I had a pregnant belly and that was plenty sufficient. It was an awful experience from start to finish. Not one that I look back and think "I needed to go through that to be a better person". I needed to be treated with kindness and love and acceptance; none of which I felt from any member of the church at that time.Fast forward 12 years. Now I am a grown woman, faithfully doing my best to be a good member of the church. My fiance and I are really trying hard to be "good", reading our scriptures together each day, praying together, attending wholesome activities, not placing ourselves in dangerous situations where we might be tempted to act upon any sexual desires (as an adult I am cringing as I type). I really truly 100% wanted a temple marriage. We were really really good! But we allowed ourselves to get a little carried away, one time. No sex, mind you, but stuff we shouldn't oughta been doin. Anyways, my fiance had immense guilt over it and was seriously terrified we were jeopardizing our eternal salvation, and he insisted we go and talk to our bishops. I was extremely against it; I felt that we were adults, we could repent of it and work it out with God on our own and with each other......oh yeah, not to mention that awful experience I had as a child confessing a sexual sin. But I went anyways. Ok, so here I am, alone in a room with another grown man, and he is asking me the questions he is told to ask. As I confessed, as generally as I could, I could see this guy getting turned on. He absolutely did not want to be, I have no doubt about that, but he was nonetheless. I was put on some form of disciplinary action (not allowed to take the sacrament, no public praying, blah blah blah). I also had to go to report to him EVERY WEEK!!!! When I went home, my fiance called me, feeling elated and absolved of any sin, reciting his experience. His bishop virtually gave him a high five, sternly told him to go and sin no more, and sent him on his merry way. That was the beginning of my undoing.
Oh my goodness! Wow. You have been through some crap, and I wouldn't blame you for never wanting to do a Mormon confession again. (And actually, I personally no longer believe in Mormon confession. Or Catholic confession. Or any confession where I tell my sins to a total stranger so he can judge and/or punish me.)There are some very good blogs out right now about why it's important to strip gender roles from the church and to elevate women so that we are all, REALLY, thought of and spoken of the same. (This is one: http://rationalfaiths.com/sexual-assault-in-mormon-patriarchy/ ). I actually went through something kind of similar in my first marriage. My fiance at the time fooled around A LOT. We didn't technically do "the special hug," but we did everything else. We decided to go to the bishop, because we figured we probably needed to change plans and not marry in the temple. The bishop was my grandpa's first cousin, and my neighbor who I had known my entire life. My fiance and I were in the same ward so we went together. The bishop was like, "So you did all THAT but you didn't have sex?" We said, "Yep." And he congratulated us and told us to be good for the next week and we'd be good to go for the temple. I know there are bishops who most definitely decided differently. And I'm sure a bishop talking to my fiance without me there would have reacted differently. Ugh...bishops seems to be the luck of the draw, yeah?So I'm against Mormon confession and, I believe that I can deal directly with God. I do believe there can be benefit from confessing things, but confess them to a parent you trust, or a spouse, or a best friend, or a therapist. But I reject the idea that a bishop has to hear it and then decide when Christ forgives me. You know?Thanks for sharing your story.-wade-
Now we are happily married, were sealed in the temple a year after our marriage (even though we were deemed worthy to be married in the temple, the presidency decided it best for us to wait a year........after all that). Anyways, my daughter was 14-15 at this time and it was time for her to have her annual interview with the bishop. She did NOT want to go, and I didn't understand why. Feeling it was what was best for her, I insisted that she go. She went, and came home in tears, refusing to tell me what happened. It took her a solid year to have the courage to talk to me about it. She said he asked her extremely uncomfortable questions about her sexuality and that he would not take general answers and leave it at that; he pried. A lot. I was not there, I cannot say what really went on, but to this day, she says it was the worst experience of her life. Once I realized what the implications of what happens every day with these beautiful, young, impressionable, trusting girls, I am absolutely sick to my stomach that I ever even allowed, much less insisted on her going. Even men with the absolute best intentions are human with base sexual instincts. It is fact. And they should never be allowed to ask questions of a sexual nature to minors. Ever. And never ever ever with no one else in the room.
I agree. I think the policies and procedures on Mormon confession could stand an overhaul.