As I had been taught for years in Young Women, I aspired to a Temple marriage. Unfortunately, no one from my family was able to attend. I am a convert and was the first in my family to marry in the Temple. I had absolutely no idea what to expect and asked as many questions as I could conceive prior to the day. I was told that I needed an escort, so I asked one of the Young Women’s leaders whom I had kept in touch with to be my escort. It was hard not to have anyone from my family there, but I was glad to have my Young Women’s leader with me.
At the end of the ceremony I was asked to have my witness sign my marriage certificate. Naturally, I selected the same woman who had been my escort. I was told that it had to be a man. No one told me I needed to bring a man, and I didn’t really know the other men there. They were all friends or family of my husband, many of whom I had only met a day or so before. I looked around feeling overwhelmed, unprepared, and ready to cry; I asked the woman who was my escort if she thought her husband—a man I barely knew—would be willing to be my witness.
As a woman in the Church and as a young woman growing up, I did not establish strong lasting relationships with men with whom I would have felt comfortable having as a witness to my marriage. I did, however, develop wonderful impactful relationships with the women in my life who guided me through my teenage years.
Inasmuch as having women witness special moments and ordinances within the church could alleviate some of the pain and confusion felt by women who do not have deep ties to Mormonism but who wish to be supported in making and keeping sacred covenants, I humbly ask for the prayerful consideration that women be allowed to witness.
Natasha Walls Smith
two girl scouts standing in front of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir
My daughters are 10 and 13. They see the inequality in our church, even in subtle ways, and it terrifies me to think that they may internalize even a fraction of it. I am grateful for this action because it gives my girls a chance to share their hopes for very real, concrete changes that could bring a glimmer of hope. They know that women are #ReadyToWitness.
Dear President Oscarson,
Through my teenage years I said the Young Women’s theme every week in Young Women’s, and was reminded each time to “Stand as a Witness’. This had significant meaning for me, and I took the invitation seriously. As an adult, I have become aware of the ways in which women are precluded from realizing this invitation– during baby blessings, baptisms, sealings and even interviews. I am unaware of any doctrinal reason for such exclusions and hope these postcards and stories will help draw attention to this oversight. I hope for more discussion and consideration about these practices, and that our Young Women today can experience an expanded understanding of “Standing as a Witness”.
With love and respect,
I’ve spent a lifetime in the Church witnessing—unofficially—sacred moments in the lives of my children, other family members and friends—baby blessings, baptisms, temple marriages. I watched as my father and father-in-law—not my mother or my mother-in-law—officially signed my marriage documents in the St. George temple. I loved them both but felt the sting of women’s exclusion on one of the most significant days of my life.
Christ considered Mary an appropriate witness to, arguably, the most significant moment in the history of Christianity—His resurrection—at a time 2,000 years ago when women often were not legally-recognized witnesses. Why, then, in 2016, are women still unable to serve as official witnesses to blessings, baptisms, and marriages in a church that bears His name?
“I have three sons, and this means I am shut out of much of their spiritual progression. I won’t be involved in many of their important moments, like ordination. But there is no doctrinal reason I can’t be an official witness to their baptisms and sealing. Please, please reconsider these men-only policies.”
Postcard to Russell M Nelson
photo of a strong adult woman and a smaller photo of her in her youth.
I heard the anguish of sisters who had been asked inappropriate questions in their worthiness interviews and the trepidation of sisters who were worried about the questions their children would be asked. Although I tried to comfort and reassure these sisters, I could not help them or myself come to peace with a Church policy that prevented them from witnessing these interviews.
Postcard addressed to President Thomas S. Monson
We are Ready to Witness.