We now have a society in which young people are okay with being gay or transgendered or having an abortion if they need one. People live together before marriage or instead of it. If a church refuses to look at these issues with compassion and even perhaps refuses to have women in its hierarchy, then a teen is just going to turn away.
I am a young person that was raised catholic, took catechism classes and goes to a catholic school where religion classes are required. The more I learn about the beliefs of the church the more I disagree with them. I no longer consider myself a catholic because of what I feel so uncomfortable with the the church teaches. It is so contrary ( in some cases ) to what I believe and feel is right. I also find to many faults in what I am taught, there seem to be to many contradictions, and not enough answers. The opinions of the church seem to strong and stubborn, very much stuck on the past teachings that may no longer apply. An organism (the church) that is unwilling to change will not survive.
I absolutely agree that social issues play a big part in driving young people from church. Social life is a large thing with the young people today. This is more so than with previous generations. Many times the social factor involved is just the fact that the young people don't want to sacrifice their social time for an attendance at church.
There's a lot to be said for science and what the church teaches being plausible to fewer and fewer people, but they're taking a lot of damage for social issues. The world is evolving and most people realize that gays aren't inhuman because of something cherry picked out of the Bible. It's outdated practices and beliefs that people don't want anymore and reject.
Yes, social issues are driving young people from church because the younger generation of people are often more liberal in their views than the older generation, which are usually more conservative. Young people have a hard time viewing their peers in the gay community in the same way that the older generation views the gay community.
Another instance of young people differing with the older generation of people in the church is that churches that are run by the older people have a difficult time speaking to young people and young people's issues. It's difficult to attend a church where you feel your needs aren't being met, so young people leave and find places that do meet their needs.
The church is driving away younger members with the message they are delivering. I'm a social traditionalist and I find most church views to be disturbingly hateful, hypocritical, and sometimes downright unchristian.
Why is it that some sins get more attention from the church than others? How many churches even teach that usury is a sin? But then how many rail against homosexuality?
For many, especially younger folks, the church has become a symbol of intolerance and hate rather than hope and love. Thus the church is the problem, not the social issues.