As a direct result of starting to ordain female priests in 1994, the Scottish Episcopal Church has decided to get rid of gendered terms for God. This is something that some of the female priests requested, but it also sounds like the male church leadership is embracing it sincerely:
“God is above and beyond human gender,” explained Rev. Darren McFarland, convener of the church’s liturgy committee. “We are not saying God is not masculine. God is also feminine. The problem is trying to use human language to describe the indescribable.” In essence, just because sexist society used masculine terms to refer to God, the Scottish Episcopal Church doesn’t believe that they should be bound to that simple conception of God. It might be harder for some to envision a gender neutral God, but that’s no excuse for entrenched sexism.
This does not extend to altering Bible quotes that refer to God in masculine terms. Neither will priests be forced to change their language if they prefer to use sexist terminology. An example of the changes you can expect to see: “Father, Son, and Holy Ghost” will now be “Creator, Redeemer, and Sanctifier.”
My interest in gender equality is not the only reason I like this. I also like it because I was raised Christian but left the church because it was clear that both God and most of His followers accepted the ideas that ranked women and children as less important than men. Women and children who suffered at the hands of men were supposed to keep silent about it, especially if those men were important in the community. I eventually became an atheist, and when people ask me why I don’t believe in God, I usually say: “Because he didn’t believe in me.”
Whether Christianity inherited sexism from the men who developed it, or whether it injected sexism into the societies it permeated, Christianity as a whole is responsible for a sick amount of not only sexism, but harm to women and children. This latest move by the Scottish Episcopal Church is subtle and may not seem terribly important. But eventually they will produce generations of Christians who were far less indoctrinated to the image of Male God than I was – than all today’s Christians are. Will that produce indirect changes in how Christianity interacts with women and children? Time will tell.