Why are People Leaving Christianity?

There’s been a post circulating on Facebook. I’ve seen it shared by several people, and let me tell you something…

It’s one that’s super easy for me to get frustrated with.

I’m going to quote the exact post that I’m referring to so that you know what I’m talking about. It’s long, so bear with me:




“Why are people leaving Christianity? It’s so sad that [insert famous person] left the faith!”

Do you really want to know? I’d be glad to tell you. This may make some of you upset/uncomfortable, but it’s the truth. I’m speaking from my personal experience as someone who left the evangelical church in 2016 (but still identifies as Christian) and the experiences of my friends who have gone through similar faith changes, including leaving Christianity all together. No one seems to be asking us why we left, but I’m going to tell you anyway.

This isn’t an exhaustive list, but these are the most common reasons my friends and I have left church/Christianity:

– Racism, including the colonialist practice of missions work and post 9/11 Islamophobia
– Misogyny. Even in the most well meaning spaces, women are still treated as second class citizens and our concerns and intelligence are not taken seriously, especially when we fail to fulfill our pre-determined gender roles (straight, feminine, get married and have children).
– Homophobia & Transphobia. This includes being kicked out of homes/rejected by churches and family members for being LGBTQ+, undergoing conversion “therapy”, and perpetuating the idea that being gay/trans is sinful and needs to be “fixed”
– The phenomenon of Purity Culture: harmful teachings about sex and relationships that stem from the belief that the only correct way to have a sexual relationship is within the confines of a heterosexual monogamous marriage, and any sexual thoughts, feelings, and actions outside of that context are inherently sinful.
– The rejection of evidence based, science backed facts and information in favor of incorrect Biblically based ideas (examples: Evolution isn’t real, the earth is actually 6000 years old, dinosaur fossils are fake).
– Political reasons such as the evangelical church’s continued support of Trump and being on the wrong side of almost every human rights issue facing society right now.
– The church’s refusal to address systematic oppression (including its role in the oppression of marginalized groups).
– Abuse. A lot of us who have left have experienced abuse, and we’re fed up with the church’s constant covering for abusers, the erasure and gaslighting of victims and survivors, and the church cultivating environments where abusers can continue to harm people without consequences
– Spending our formative years in insulated, conservative religious environments where we were forced to conform to a strict set of oppressive cultural standards while simultaneously being told that the outside world was inherently evil and wanted to hurt us because we’re Christians. Any deviation from the rules, including things like “asking too many questions” was forbidden and often included punishment. Paired with this is the disillusionment that the people and the institutions that had the most influence on us had lied to us a lot, and often in ways that would hurt us as we reached adulthood
– Theological disagreements, including no longer believing in the inerrancy of scripture, the rapture, the penal substitutionary atonement theory, the creation myth, and the existence of hell/eternal conscious torment.
– Learning that the “pro-life” movement is based on lies, manipulation, bad science, the hatred of women’s sexuality, and white supremacy
– A lot of us were forced to choose between the causes/people we care about and the churches we were raised in, and we chose the former. Any of us can tell you that the decision to leave church was painful and difficult, and having our decision treated as flippant or thoughtless is rude and dismissive. We’re not sinners, we’re not lost sheep, we’re not prodigal children. We’re just people who made choices based on our personal experiences, and those choices happen to be different than yours.




Rough, right?

See why I may have struggled with this post a little?

Yeah…not awesome.

Anyway…

Let’s hit on some of the reasons that are listed here.

#1- “Racism, including the colonialist practice of missions work and post 9/11 Islamophobia.”

First of all, I don’t even know what to say about this one. Anything can be twisted and warped into something that seems evil or even remotely wrong, right?

Colonialism, for those of you that don’t know, is defined as: the control or governing influence of a nation over a dependent country, territory, or people.

With that definition in mind, I can absolutely see how things can get misguided and twisted.

Am I saying that every single person that goes on a mission trip is there for the right reasons?

Nope, BUT it is important to note that MOST people who are going on mission trips and are foreign missionaries are not going with a goal to control or put down a group of people.

The goal is to share Jesus.

Our command as believers is to share the Gospel with the lost.

Does the Great Commission say to go into the parts of the world that match your culture so that your actions aren’t misconstrued?

Nope.

Does it say to only share Jesus with people of the same race as you so that people don’t think you’re being racist or demeaning toward a certain people group?

Nope.

America leads the world in the number of people who practice Christianity. We have approximately 230 million people who claim to follow Jesus. Doesn’t it make sense for Americans to plan mission trips to different places to share what Jesus did for us?

Let’s be honest. Yes, it does.

I’m not even going to touch on the criticism concerning Islamophobia. I am commanded to love others regardless of differences – and that’s what I’m going to do.

#2- “Mysogyny. Even in the most well-meaning spaces, women are still treated as second class citizens and our concerns and intelligence are not taken seriously, especially when we fail to fulfill our pre-determined gender roles (straight, feminine, get married, and have children).”

Ladies, let’s get one thing absolutely clear here:

We are in a fallen world.

What does that mean, Hannah?

Well, we live in a world that is overcome with sin. Sin is everywhere. It’s inevitable. We are all sinners regardless of how perfect we try to be. We all fail.

How did we end up in this position?

Well, God created the world, and it was perfect. Then, we went and chose sin over Him and messed it all up. We can say Adam and Eve made the decision, but how many times do you choose sin? We all do. It’s our nature. Because of our sin, God cursed the world and now we live in this reality.

“To the woman he said, ‘I will make your pains in childbearing very severe; with painful labor you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.” Genesis 3:16

First, let’s say this:

We were created in the image of God. Both male and female were meant to live in peace and equality with each other, but because of the curse, because of our sin, that’s not how things work anymore.

Now, let’s look at Genesis 3:16 for a moment.

The first part is pretty self-explanatory, right? Babies are gonna cause us pain. Plain and simple.

Do we know this to be true?

Yep. Easy enough.

The second part is a little deeper.

Your desire will be for your husband…

Sounds innocent, right? Not exactly.

This is one unique way of saying this:

When sin is in control in a woman, she will desperately want…desire…to be in control of, overpower, or manipulate men. On the flip side, when sin is in control in a man, he will use his strength to rule over women.

Woah.

Make sense now? This feud between man and woman will not end as a result of the fall, end of story, so STOP trying to force yourself to be equal to or over men. It’s sinful, and it’s not going to happen.

#3 – “Homophobia and Transphobia. This includes being kicked out of homes/rejected by churches and family members for being LGBTQ+, undergoing conversion ‘therapy’, and perpetuating the idea that being gay/trans is sinful and needs to be ‘fixed’.”

I’m not going to spend long here.

Scripture is clear, and because I believe the Bible is the infallible Word of God and that every word is true and applicable, I’m going to let it speak for itself.

“Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men and received in themselves the due penalty for their error. Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done.” Romans 1:26-28

“We know that the law is good if one uses it properly. We also know that the law is not made for the righteous but for the lawbreakers and rebels, the ungodly and sinful, the unholy and irreligious, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers, for the sexually immoral, for those practicing homosexuality, for slave traders and liars and perjurers – and for whatever else is contrary to the sound doctrine that conforms to the gospel concerning the glory of the blessed God, which he entrusted to me.” 1 Timothy 1:8-11

There are several more verses, but these two sum it up nicely

Homosexuality is a sin, and it is viewed as a sin in the eyes of God.

At the same time, we as Christians are called to love, not condemn. Our job is not to judge. Our job is to show them the love of Jesus. Does this mean we support their actions? No, it doesn’t, and while that may not sit well, it would be a sin for me to turn a blind eye and pretend it’s okay just because the rest of the world says it is. I am called to be in, not of this world, and I am called to be different. If we as believers do things that simply go with the way the world turns, something is horribly wrong.

#4 – “The phenomenon of Purity Culture: harmful teachings about sex and relationships that stem from the belief that the only correct way to have a sexual relationship is within the confines of a heterosexual monogamous marriage, and any sexual thoughts, feelings, and actions outside of that context are inherently sinful.”

I’m not going to spend much time here, either. Scripture is absolutely clear.

“Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body.” 1 Corinthians 6:18

“Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral.” Hebrews 13:4

“Clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh.” Romans 13:14

“It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexuality; that each of you should learn to control your own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not passionate in lust like the pagans, who do not know God…” 1 Thessalonians 4:3-5

The ONLY correct way to have a sexual relationship is within the confines of a heterosexual monogamous marriage, and any sexual thoughts, feelings, and actions outside of that context ARE sinful.

#5 – “The rejection of evidence based, science backed facts and information in favor of incorrect Biblically based ideas (examples: Evolution isn’t real, the earth is actually 6000 years old, dinosaur fossils are fake).”

This one is easy for me. “The rejection of evidence based, science backed facts and information in favor of incorrect, Biblically based ideas…”

The Bible is the infallible Word of God. To question Its inerrancy, is just going to lead to confusion and false information. I don’t think I could care less what science says if it contradicts God’s Word.

Does this mean I don’t believe dinosaur fossils are real?

No, but honestly, who cares? I have other things that are far more important on my mind.

The Bible is the Word of God. Every single bit of it is God breathed and is relevant. I will not question the truth that is Scripture because the world doesn’t agree with it.

Also, there are plenty of scientific facts/discoveries that support Scripture, FYI.

#6 – “Political reasons such as the evangelical church’s continued support of Trump and being on the wrong side of almost every human rights issue facing society right now.”

Politics are a sticky subject. I know Christians who are avid Trump supporters, but I also know Christians who are far left advocates. To be honest, politics aren’t my main concern. I am going to vote for who I believe is going to uphold godly standards in the best way possible. No matter what, God is in control, and He isn’t surprised by any political situation our country gets itself into. I will pray for our country’s leaders and their decision-making processes regardless of who is in office – even if I didn’t vote for that person.

#7 – “Abuse. A lot of us who have left have experienced abuse, and we’re fed up with the church’s constant covering for abusers, the erasure and gas lighting of victims and survivors, and the church cultivating environments where abusers can continue to harm people without consequences.”

I can honestly say I don’t know much about this one. Abuse is horrible, and if you have experienced it in a church setting or from a person or leader in the church, that is wrong.

I’m sorry to those that this has happened to, but don’t write off church as a whole because one made a huge mistake. Again, abuse is wrong, and I think you’d be surprised how much love and support you’d find from people in a church if you look for it.

#8 – “Spending our formative years in insulated, conservative religious environments where we were forced to conform to a strict set of oppressive cultural standards while simultaneously being told that the outside world was inherently evil and wanted to hurt us because we’re Christians. Any deviation from the rules, including things like “asking too many questions” was forbidden and often included punishment. Paired with this is the disillusionment that the people and the institutions that had the most influence on us had lied to us a lot, and often in ways that would hurt us as we reached adulthood.”

This is another one of those that I don’t know much about. Yeah, my formative years were spent in church. I got saved when I was six, and those years were spent putting my roots into what I know is true. None of what I learned has been harmful or has hurt me in any way into adulthood. It has helped me to stand strong in the truth in a world that is consistently going against what is good.

This is yet another situation where I would ask that you don’t write off church as a whole because of your poor experience.

One thing I will add about this one is that the world IS evil. It IS overcome with darkness, and Scripture does teach us that we will be hated because we are Christians.

Do I think we should dwell on these things?

No, of course not, but they are true.

#9 – “Theological disagreements, including no longer believing in the inerrancy of scripture, the rapture, the penal substitutionary atonement theory, the creation myth, and the existence of hell/eternal conscious torment.”

Okay, I’m confused by this one.

Theological disagreements-sure. I get that. Those are everywhere, and it’s okay.

“No longer believing the inerrancy of Scripture…” This post is FULL of statements that are questioning, and some are just disrespecting Scripture and its inerrancy. I do agree that there are some churches that do not preach the Bible the way they should, but again, don’t write us all off because of those institutions.

The rapture is one that is viewed differently for different people. I, personally, believe that the church will be called up prior to tribulation. There are others that believe tribulation is happening now, and there are some that believe the church will endure all of tribulation. This is one of those areas where it’s okay to differ. Don’t miss the message of Revelation because you’re too wrapped up in the details. Be ready. He’s coming.

The Penal Substitution Atonement Theory is one that I honestly had to do my research on. I’ll sum it up for you. The Penal Substitution Atonement Theory is Jesus suffering in our place, taking on our sin, so that we can live eternally with God.

This is NOT a theory, it’s the truth, and if anyone questions this, they are wrong, period.

The Creation Myth is simple – read your Bible. That goes back to God’s Word being inerrant. Trust it.

Let’s get this last one really clear.

Hell is real. Eternal torture is real. Eternal separation from God is real.

Don’t waste your life listening to people who try to tell you that Hell doesn’t exist.

#10 – “A lot of us were forced to choose between the causes/people we care about and the churches we were raised in, and we chose the former. Any of us can tell you that the decision to leave church was painful and difficult, and having our decision treated as flippant or thoughtless is rude and dismissive. We’re not sinners, we’re not lost sheep, we’re not prodigal children. We’re just people who made choices based on our personal experiences, and those choices happen to be different than yours.”

Choosing between causes and people you care about is one thing. I understand that would be hard, but when you choose Jesus, the decisions aren’t always going to be the ones with easy answers. You’re gonna lose people you care about. You’re gonna see some of those causes be wrong. I don’t doubt that losing these things would be painful, but it’s all worth it for a relationship with Him.

Also, we’re ALL sinners. We’re ALL lost without Jesus. No one is exempt from this.




Here’s the deal. I will NOT change what I know to be true because the world is going in a direction that contradicts what I’ve always known. God’s Word is the same yesterday, today, and will be forever. It is always relevant and true. I will NOT abandon the church because there are some mistakes. God cherishes the church, and I am honored to be a part of it. Now is the time when believers need to come together and show love to a world that’s lost. If we’re separating at the seams, what is that telling the world about Jesus? If we go along with everything the world says, how are we any different?

Christians – Stand firm. Don’t fall for this mentality that allows you to pick and choose what to pull from Scripture. Don’t change what you know to be true because the world says you’re wrong. Right now, we are at war with darkness. Don’t let your emotions lose this fight for you because you’re too focused on things that don’t matter.




“Feelings are great liars. If Christians worshipped only when they felt like it, there would be precious little worship. Feelings are important in many areas but completely unreliable in matters of faith.”

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