Posted by on Feb 11, 2016 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Mark Barnes serves on the Ordain Women Executive Committee as Treasurer and chair of the Male Allies committee.

Ready to Witness

Dear Brethren,

This should be an easy fix. I am sure that it must simply be an oversight. But, I want you to know the women are “Ready to Witness.” For some reason (as discussed below), despite having all the requisite abilities, woman have been banned from acting as witnesses in the church. Despite having fully functional eyes, memories and language skills, women are not allowed to witness baptisms, weddings, or other ordinances performed in the church. I am sure you would never claim that they are incapable of observing and accurately reporting their observations, so where did this strange practice begin?

We know it did not begin with Jesus Christ. After all, he chose women to be the first witnesses to his resurrection. When it comes to endorsing women as witnesses, you can’t beat the Savior’s selection of women as his witnesses. Luke 24: 1-10.

1 Now upon the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they came unto the sepulchre, bringing the spices which they had prepared, and certain others with them.

2 And they found the stone rolled away from the sepulchre.

3 And they entered in, and found not the body of the Lord Jesus.

4 And it came to pass, as they were much perplexed thereabout, behold, two men stood by them in shining garments:

5 And as they were afraid, and bowed down their faces to the earth, they said unto them, Why seek ye the living among the dead?

6 He is not here, but is risen: remember how he spake unto you when he was yet in Galilee,

7 Saying, The Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again.

8 And they remembered his words,

9 And returned from the sepulchre, and told all these things unto the eleven, and to all the rest.

10 It was Mary Magdalene, and Joanna, and Mary the mother of James, and other women that were with them, which told these things unto the apostles.

Despite women being selected to witness the resurrection, why does the church today ban women from witnessing even the most basic of ordinances? This ban on women comes from ancient Rome. We all learned about the Great Apostasy, and how Roman politics corrupted Christianity. It was this apostasy that necessitated the restoration. This Roman corruption included the devaluation of women, and the ban on women as witnesses. Rome with all its male bravado and devotion to war devalued the feminine. As Bart Ehrman explains in his article “Male Domination in Antiquity,” women were seen as weak, frail, and incompetent?

Women were on the lower end of the scale for biological reasons: they were “men” who had been only partially formed in the womb, undeveloped, imperfect from birth. They differed from “real” men because their penises had never grown and the rest of their bodies would never develop to their full potential. Thus, by their very nature, women were necessarily the “weaker” sex.

Surely, Dear Brethren, you accept the judgment of the Savior concerning women as witnesses over the Roman corruption that later infected Christianity. After all, Rome placed women on par with slaves, denying both the right to carry their own name. After all, a name was a distinct sign of Roman citizenship. Moreover, women were excluded from all public functions and rights. 

  • The woman could not have charge of another person. “Tutela virile officium est”. She could not have patronage of her children and cousins (except in later Roman law).
  • Women could not function as witnesses, whether at the drawing up of a last will, or in any other form of law.“The woman is incapable of being a witness in any form of jurisprudence where witnesses are required”. Women were reckoned with minors, slaves, the dumb and criminals to be incapable of being witnesses.
  • Women could not start a court case without being represented by a man. Women cannot represent themselves in law “because of the infirmity of their sex and because of their ignorance about matters pertaining to public life”.

Certainly, Brethren, you recognize the fallacy of these Roman beliefs. As part of the restoration of all things, we should follow the example of Jesus Christ, and include women in all witness functions within the church. The church should no longer be ruled by the dead hand of Roman misogyny, but restore the enlightened view of women reflected in the choice of the Savior to have women be the first witnesses to his resurrection.

P.S. Because this same Roman misogyny is also the basis for denying women priesthood within Christianity, please consider reversing the priesthood ban on women.