Is SEX really the number 1 reason?

Last week my good friend Ben Kerns wrote on his blog that the number 1 reason why people, especially young adults, were leaving the church was because of….SEX! It’s a great read, so if you haven’t read his post about it, catch it here before you continue reading my response to it.

UnknownBen had some really good things to say that I would 100% percent agree with. For instance, 2 of them are:

  1. Students are looking for a reason to have sex. This was my favorite line of Ben’s post, “What about the dinosaurs?  Can’t explain it?  Than this faith is a joke so let’s have sex!”. Haha, I love it! They can’t explain things about God, so they just give up.  It is almost like they are looking for excuses to have sex. It is exactly because of statements like these though, that support the premise of my argument (see below).
  2. “The vast majority of couples at church have slept others and each other before they were married and many also lived together.  Once they are married, they all seem to have forgotten their past infractions and plan to put this burden of purity and abstinence on their children.  This burden was one that they couldn’t carry and one that they seem to have little or no grace for people who are in the middle of this struggle.” How sad and true is this?

As much as I can appreciate Ben’s viewpoint, I will have to say that I don’t agree with him on the basic premise of his argument. Is sex a big factor why young adults stop going to Church? Yes, it most certainly it.  It’s a big factor for all people attending church. I mean, let’s be honest, sex is great so I can understand why someone wouldn’t want to stop having it especially if they aren’t “suppose” to.

[Tweet “But the issue of people leaving the church is deeper than just sex.”]

I believe that the reason why young adults have stopped going to church is because they never had an authentic faith to begin with. Rather they have a faith that is basically a pick and choose.

You know this faith…you’ve heard and seen it many times before. It’s when a person will say, “I like this part of the Bible but I don’t like this so I will follow what I want and not do whatever I feel like isn’t ‘right’”. That is pick and choose faith, not authentic faith.

The reality is we live in this “me-first”, “pick and choose”, “feel good” world in which people do what they want to do, how they want to do it and whenever they want to. So think about it, if you are doing whatever you want, whenever you want, however you want, why would you ever go to place (i.e. the church) where you are made to feel like you can’t do that?

So when it really boils down to it, we should not be surprised that they are leaving the church. They have never picked up their cross and followed God to begin with (Luke 9:23).  When faith gets hard, doubt seeps in or there is something they just don’t like, they leave and not properly process it with a mature individual or mentor.

Is that the church’s fault? Maybe. Is it the parent’s fault for never teaching them how to follow God authentically? Possibly. Ultimately, I believe both families and churches have unintentionally nurtured a “feel good” faith (which some of it is right) to when it stops feeling good, they leave.

And that is where we are now.  Sex is a contributor to that but I do not believe it’s the number 1 factor.

So the question isn’t how do we help people stay with the Church longer whether they are sexually active or not. Rather, it is how do we help people have authentic faith?  A faith that is alive and active so that when doubt creeps in or hardship happens, or when temptation is at it’s highest, they can legitimately stay strong in Christ and not bail?

What do you think? Based on Ben and my observations about teens and young adults, is sex really the number 1 reason people are leaving or is there something else?  Share your thoughts below or on social media with the #ymsidekick hashtag.

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Tom Pounder

A father of 4, Tom is the Online Campus Pastor as well as Social Media Director at New Life Christian Church in Chantilly, VA. He blogs, vlogs, periscopes and podcasts regularly about student and online ministry stuff. Check out his work at and on iTunes (search YMSidekick).

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