And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but perceivest not the beam that is in thine own eye?
The mid-1980’s were a tumultuous time for the FOC, and for my family. In 1986, our final leader/elder, Glenford Lee, died. In the first weeks of 1987, my sister left church and went into hiding with my toddler niece. The story of my sister’s life and the impact it had on me and my family is the subject of my second memoir.
When Glenford passed away, nobody knew what would become of the group. But our immediate response was to pay our respects. The way I remember it is that everyone in church went to Glenford’s home and parked along the streets and in the yard and stood in line waiting to walk through the house and view his body. I stood in line with my folks and my sister, while my brothers stood apart from us with the teenage boys.
But there were several families who were noticeably missing from the grieving throng that day. A dozen or more respectable married couples had been involved in an expansive sex swapping scandal. I believe they all stayed away.
The couples got together with various others and had sex in the same room and swapped partners. Sometimes married couples engaged in these activities with the knowledge and consent of their partners and sometimes not. Some people were far more involved than their spouses. Sometimes they brought their children along and ordered them to stay in another room. Video cameras were involved.
I don’t bring this up to cast blame or judgment on anyone. I’m certain that’s not my place. But what hurt me at the time was that some of these sex swappers were the parents of my friends. And these “upstanding” folks were so unkind to me! They told their daughters to stay away from me because they disapproved of my sister. I was thirteen years old and these self-righteous hypocrites were absolutely horrible to me because my sister was no longer living in Oregon City and a member of the group. Their behavior was irrelevant as long as they showed up twice a week and sat on the benches.
Later, when I married outside the group, it was some of those same folks who were the loudest complainers of my continued presence. Nearly everyone shunned me, but these people went further than most in their dirty looks and the statements they made about me to my family members.
A lot of folks were hurt during those times. Not just the families and children of the swingers, but also people who had looked up to those people. Some said that it was a turning point in how they felt about the church.
This wasn't the first time a sex scandal would blow up in the group - and it certainly wouldn't be the last.
People make mistakes, but how they deal with those mistakes can make all the difference.