A friend of mine recently lost her virginity (all hail Valentine’s Day). She is nineteen years old, and although at first I was hesitant because she had only been with the guy for a month, by the end of the conversation I was happy for her. While her first time was more awkward than sexy (the universal truth that none of us expected), it was healthy. It was something she chose without the weight of pressure. Feelings were mutual, even if they weren’t quite to the l-word. And—the best part of all—neither of them are guilt-tripping.
Alongside ABSTINENCE-ONLY teachings, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints also teaches damnation if the rule is in any way broken. Through my teenage years, I cannot count how many pamphlets I have been handed with boldface rules such as DON’T BE ALONE WITH THE OPPOSITE SEX—DON’T KISS THE OPPOSITE SEX FOR MORE THAN THREE SECONDS—DON’T BE HORIZONTAL WITH THE OPPOSITE SEX—DON’T TURN OFF LIGHTS WHEN YOU ARE WITH THE OPPOSITE SEX—PROCREATION IS A SACRED GIFT AND SHOULD ONLY BE USED FOR PROCREATING—etc.
And I cannot tell you how many times a Bishop, the man who is the leader of the ward (neighborhood), stood in front of our youth campfires and told us not to be afraid to confess to him.
That’s right—Mormons don’t swing the Catholic way and admit wrongs to an anonymous curtain. They are required to make an appointment, sit on one side of a desk, and confess that they kissed someone for more than three seconds to a forty-plus-year-old man. They do so because that forty-plus-year-old man is in charge of their GET INTO HEAVEN CARD (a temple recommendation) and is the only one who can give it.
He will also take it away if you so much as touch yourself.
Masturbation is absolutely wrapped up in the sexual taboos of the Mormon church. Yep, forty-plus-year-old neighbor man wants 12-year-olds to tell him that they touch themselves so that he can tell them that until they stop, they can’t get into heaven.
I’m not exaggerating when I call a temple recommendation a GET INTO HEAVEN CARD. Literally a card, a tiny printed piece of paper to be kept in your wallet, Mormons are taught as children that the ONLY way anyone who has ever been on this earth can get into the highest level of heaven is if they have a current temple recommendation card.
I can understand the Church warring against teenage pregnancy, but I have seen far too many young men, my best friends and family, go through depression because their bodies physically HAVE TO masturbate, and because they do, they are taught that they themselves are dirt in God’s eyes.
Sex plays right along the same lines. It is a crime against human nature to have to expunge the most intimate parts of your personal life to someone to be told that they are bad, evil, and wrong. These things are healthy, and deeply deeply personal. No one has the right to touch them and I am sick of children being brainwashed to think they have to share their genitals with a forty-plus-year-old stranger.
There is no shame in your body. If anyone ever tells you otherwise, they’re selling something–and there is no such thing as a license on salvation.