1. One issue is whether we should have a judgmental attitude toward those who sin. As a sinner myself, I would agree that the best approach is to not stand in judgment of others.
I think we are agreed here. I would extend this further and say that I actually don't even have the right to "admonish" others being the sinner that I am. For me, I think I should not even see
sin in anyone but myself. There are better people than I who can "admonish".
2. Another issue is pastoral considerations, and whether a priest sometimes has to allow rules to be bent in order to not lose a member of his congregation. It's not my place to judge a priest, and I can't even imagine how hard it would be to be one. I'm sure there are times when rules get bent and that is between the priest and God.
In the light of No.1 above, I'm not sure that its "bending the rules" as much as keeping them- specifically, keeping the Gospel commandment to abstain from judgement. If someone asks
what the moral teaching of the Church is, then that is a different kettle of fish. If someone Confesses their confusion over a moral issue to a Priest, then the Priest instructs them what the teaching of the Church is.
3. A third issue is whether pre-marital sex is a sin. In my Church it is. I would think it still is in other Orthodox Churches.
While I agree, I think we need to make clear several things:
(a) Sex outside marriage is not the only
sin, nor even the worst
(b) We all make mistakes, we all sin, and it doesn't matter how many times you fall as long as you get up again each time.
(c) If someone tells us that in their conscience they do not see sex during betrothal/engagement as a sin when they intend to marry (as Bogoliubtsy does) then we cannot judge their conscience.
4. Yet another issue is whether the Church should alter Tradition and stop saying something is a sin in order to make life easier for some people or in order to not appear judgmental. That is different from number 2, above. In the above situation, something is still considered a sin, but an exception is made. Here, I am talking about saying on an official level that something which for 2,000 years was a sin is no longer one. I am wondering if this is happening in any Orthodox Churches out there.
As the example above shows, the Church has done this with the sin of usury. It is still a sin, but the circumstances of modern life require it. The same with divorce. The Gospel does not permit divorce, but the Church allows it in some cases in order to prevent an even greater sin.