When is blessing not a blessing? When the blessing is done by Anglican clergy.
It sounds like a joke, but it isn’t. Because it comes from the befuddled Church of England House of Bishops Pastoral Guidance on Same Sex Marriage:
Acts of worship following civil same sex weddings
19. … As with civil partnership, some same sex couples are… likely to seek some recognition of their new situation in the context of an act of worship.
20. The 2005 pastoral statement said that it would not be right to produce an authorized public liturgy in connection with the registering of civil partnerships and that clergy should not provide services of blessing for those who registered civil partnerships. The House did not wish, however, to interfere with the clergy’s pastoral discretion about when more informal kind of prayer, at the request of the couple, might be appropriate in the light of the circumstances. …
21. The same approach as commended in the 2005 statement should therefore apply to couples who enter same-sex marriage, on the assumption that any prayer will be accompanied by pastoral discussion of the church’s teaching and their reasons for departing from it. Services of blessing should not be provided. Clergy should respond pastorally and sensitively in other ways.
How do Christians bless? We bless by giving thanks to God. That’s what we have done for thousands of years. We learnt that from our Jewish older siblings.
How do we bless bread and wine for Communion? We do it by giving thanks. That’s why we call it “Eucharist” (Greek for “Thanks”). How did Jesus bless bread and wine? He did it by giving thanks. How do we bless water for baptism? By giving thanks. How do we bless people and ordain them? By giving thanks.
When we “Bless the Lord” we are not tracing a sign of the cross towards God, or invoking some magical formula, we are thanking and praising God.
There are people who have been advocating having a service that acknowledges the relationship of a committed same-sex couple, but not allowing for their marriage or blessing. When I have asked for even a draft or sketch towards such a rite, no one has ever produced one for me. The problem is, of course, that it seems unusual for a Christian rite to be proposed in which any thanking of God is forbidden.
Anglicans are well-known for eirenic mumbling, producing texts that are so equivocal that a broad spectrum of Christian positions can affirm them. But in this case the bishops have said you can have a three-sided figure as long as you do not call it a triangle.