Jesus didn’t ordain women? — Prove it.
I suppose we do not know all the reasons why Christ did not ordain women as apostles, either in the New Testament or the Book of Mormon, or when the Church was restored in modern times. We only know that he did not, that his leaders today regard this as a doctrinal issue that cannot be compromised, and that agitation from a few Church members is hindering the broader and more productive conversation about the voice, value and visibility of women in the Church that has been going on for years and will certainly continue.
Here Otterson is confusing actual history with history as told in the scriptures, which I know he knows are truncated. Even if one believes that the Bible was put together by God, and that gnostic gospels throughout the centuries were supposed to be excluded, that doesn’t mean that they don’t offer glimpses into actual history, such as various relationships between real-world people as told from different perspectives.
With that said, a number of women in the Bible very likely received teachings directly from Jesus while not in the company of the twelve. In the Gospel of Mary (taken from a text that dates from the 2nd century), Mary is talking to the twelve about some stuff that Jesus told her about the nature of sin, and Peter complains that it doesn’t seem to match with what they were told [from Mary 9:4-8]:
4He [Peter] questioned them [the other apostles] about the Savior: Did He really speak privately with a woman and not openly to us? Are we to turn about and all listen to her? Did He prefer her to us?
5 Then Mary wept and said to Peter, My brother Peter, what do you think? Do you think that I have thought this up myself in my heart, or that I am lying about the Savior?
6 Levi answered and said to Peter, Peter you have always been hot tempered.
7 Now I see you contending against the woman like the adversaries.
8 But if the Savior made her worthy, who are you indeed to reject her? Surely the Savior knows her very well.
Basically, Otterson is acting like Peter. He cannot see Mary as Mary… he can only see her as a “woman” who cannot possibly have a similar relationship to the Savior that a man does. Levi seems to be more level-headed.
Yes, in the Bible, specifically Luke 6:13, Jesus chooses twelve men from a large group of disciples and names them as “apostles.” But there are gnostic texts that name women as apostles, too…that is, disciples who have “graduated” and could then “lead.” I suppose for some people, it’s too much of a stretch to imagine women in this position, but for others, the patriarchy of the canonized holy texts is clear, and Christianity only makes sense as an ethical religion if supplemented with additional information.
Here’s a question. Why in the Church scriptures is Junia named as an “apostle” (Romans 16:7)? This instance of a female apostle has created significant debate in other branches of Christianity bent to maintain male-only ordination…usually the argument is that Paul uses the word “apostle” to vaguely refer to a “learned disciple”; I’m curious of the talk of this passage in Mormonism.
In any event, the Church would have a lot of work to do to demonstrate that its ordination practices actually correspond to what happened during the time of Jesus (such as ordaining 12-year-olds). It is not something to be “taken as a matter of faith.” It’s an issue of historical fact, and despite Otterson saying that we know Jesus didn’t ordain women, we actually don’t know this.