Marriage is "the union of husband and wife in body, mind, and spirit." (BCP p. 423) It is not a partnership where each contributes 50% to the outcome. It is a union where each person surrenders to the other person completely (or as much as possible). As Holy Scripture says, the two become "one flesh." There are no longer two distinct people in a marriage - there is "one flesh."
I've heard some rather terrible marriage sermons in my time. The worst talk about a "partnership of equals" where "both need to work to make the marriage work." This makes marriage sound like a business plan, not a "union in body, mind, and spirit."
In the Church Catholic, Marriage is a "Sacrament" - "an outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace, given by Christ as a sure and certain means by which we receive that grace." (BCP p. 857) In marriage, the minister of the sacrament is not the priest or clergy person officiating at the wedding ceremony. The ministers of the sacrament are husband and wife. The grace given is the grace to surrender your will to the combined will of the marriage - to seek your spouse's good above your own.
The Church blesses marriages, not because we like marriage or we like married people or because we want society ordered but because of these four reasons (BCP 423):
- God Ordained marriage in Creation
- Jesus adorned marriage by his presence and first miracle at the Wedding feast in Cana
- Paul stated that marriage symbolizes the union between Christ and the Church
- Holy Scripture commends marriage to be honored among all people.
Sacramental marriages work to conform to the images of marriage given in Holy Scripture. When it comes to blessing same sex unions, we have no biblical warrant for doing so. I have challenged many people who support the blessing of same sex unions (including our Presiding Bishop) and no one has been able to show me where any of the four reasons is true for same sex unions.
Until we can show, objectively, where God condones and blesses same sex unions, the Church lacks the authority to bless them, let alone call them "marriages."