Ronan’s post this morning reminded me of something I had written but hadn’t gotten around to posting:
Every week, our young women join together and announce their intention to stand as witnesses of God. I doubt many of them realize that, in the scriptures, women frequently have an important role as witnesses:
–there is no canonized account of a raising from the dead without women present.
–women had an important role in witnessing Jesus’ death (See Mark 15:40–note especially the word “looking.”) and burial.
–women were the first witnesses to the resurrection.
It is easy to imagine an LDS Church where men continued to be the only ones authorized to perform priesthood ordinances, but women were always required to be present to witness those ordinances. Today, one need be a priest or a MP holder in order to witness a baptism (see here), but there is no scriptural warrant for this; in fact, B. H. Roberts said that “We know of nothing in the written word that positively asserts that it is necessary to have witnesses to ordinary baptisms of the living” (cite). What is interesting about the women-as-witnesses proposal is that it is theologically easy–no major doctrinal upheaval needed, no priesthood ordination needed, and traditionalists can assert that the practice is grounded in both scripture and the complementary-but-not-identical nature of men and women. I suspect that not every woman unhappy with current church practice would find this an adequate solution, but many would, I think, find this formal role in priesthood ordinances to be a balm.