This is a tricky one. The Bulls didn't really have a strong case, but it's difficult not to have sympathy for them. They come across in the media as a harmless couple just doing what seems right to them. It's also hard to shake off the sneaking suspicion that they have been ambushed. There may, too, be unintended consequences of this. I remember a blogger a few weeks ago linking to the website of a "gay only" hotel, and asking the quite legitimate question of why that was not illegal.
Should Christians who share the Bull's views be allowed to discriminate between married couples and those in civil partnerships? Andrew Brown offers the interesting information that Judge Rutherford is a member of the Church of England, but that didn't sway his opinion in favour of the Bulls. I have to say though, that I think the Judge is right. Whatever the details of the theological debate over sexuality, the Church should be subject to the law of the land. I do, incidentally, still believe that if there's a clash between following Christ and obeying the law, Christ should come first. I just don't think this is a case in point. The Bulls are not being forced to participate in anything they believe to be wrong. They are just being told not to discriminate against other people who do.
Although the case breaks new ground legally, it's another example of something that has been going on for some time, whereby Christians attempt to enforce their ethical standards on the world around them. This is quite the wrong way round. Let's side aside the question of sexuality for a moment (not because it doesn't matter, but because it is complicated and Christians don't agree on it), and think in general terms. The Christian life begins in an encounter with Jesus Christ, and out of this flows a desire to live one's life a certain way. If we attempt to force that lifestyle on to other people without them first sharing our faith, we are going nowhere. It's like trying to make someone wear evening dress when they're just off to the beach. Why should they?
It's a big scary world out there, and if Christians are to live in it, then we will meet a lot of people who don't do things the way we do. If we are to be credible in our faith, we need to realise this and stop trying to tell everyone else how to live their lives. Belief comes before behaviour.