Posted by on Jun 23, 2019 in Blog | 0 comments

I was listening to the soundtrack to the hit 2011 Broadway musical “The Book of Mormon” as I got ready for church this morning. One of the songs is titled “You And Me (But Mostly Me)”. It features the two main characters of the musical, Elder Price and Elder Cunningham, preparing to depart from the MTC to the mission field of Uganda. Elder Price is the prototypical golden boy missionary – “the smartest, best, most deserving elder the center’s ever seen” in the words of a fellow missionary. Elder Cunningham is his clueless but eager-to-please companion. The key message of the song is summed up nicely in this excerpt:

Elder P You and me –but mostly me —
  Are gonna change the world forever
  ‘Cause I can do most anything
Elder C And I can stand next to you and watch!
Elder P Every hero needs a sidekick!
  Every hero needs a mate!
Elder C Aye aye!
Elder P Every dinner needs a side dish
Elder C On a slightly smaller plate!
Both And now we’re seeing eye to eye
  It’s so great we can agree!
  That Heavenly Father has chosen you and me
Elder P Just mostly me!

The irony – and consequent hilarity – of the song is conveyed through Elder Price’s conflicting desires to work as part of a companionship but also claim credit for “set[ting] the world’s people free” and “do[ing] something incredible / that will blow God’s freakin’ mind.”

An analogous (but not so hilarious) conflict can be observed in the LDS church’s gender relations. We are taught that we are all children of God with incredible divine potential, but half of us are systematically relegated to the role of “sidekick,” “mate,” or “side dish on a slightly smaller plate” based on biological characteristics over which we have no control. We are pushed to the sidelines to “WATCH” our brothers in the gospel be ordained to the Priesthood, preside, lead, and ultimately control everything about an institution that is comprised of nearly 60% women. This is why leaders feel the need to repeatedly reassure us women that we are equal companions in the work of our marriages, lives, and the church.

It only takes a quick look around – at our partnerships, pulpits, and leadership structures – to realize that we are being treated like the eager but naïve Elder Cunningham. Nowhere is this more evident than in The Family: A Proclamation to the World, which states simultaneously that “fathers and mothers are obligated to help one another as equal partners”, yet “fathers are to preside”. Our leaders reassure us: “Heavenly Father has chosen you and me.” But actions speak louder than words and we hear the next part of the song reverberate loudly: “but mostly me[n]”.