We Don't Ask Enough
We need to ask more of young people, not less.
Never underestimate human laziness. If I’m deciding between alternatives, I’m typically going to choose that which asks less of me. Give me what’s easy, simple, convenient!
But religious commitment often doesn’t work like that. Notre Dame professor Ulrich Lehner writes in God Is Not Nice:
“An economist would tell us that, other things remaining equal, a group that imposes high costs on its members, be it social stigmas or persecution or other forms of sacrifice, is less attractive. The interesting thing with religion, however, is that things do not remain equal. The higher the costs of membership, the stronger the levels of commitment.”
One can point to many examples that support Lehner’s claim.
The women’s religious orders experiencing significant growth today typically require the habit and stand in high tension with the surrounding culture.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints has high expectations when it comes to tithing and sexual morality. They encourage young men to go on mission for two years. And one cannot even drink coffee! Still, their rapid growth may not be despite such high expectations; it may in part be because of them.
Jordan Peterson recently hosted Bishop Robert Barron on his podcast and YouTube. They talked about why so many young people have left the Church. The two agreed that it was not because the Church asked too much of young people. Rather, it’s in part due to the fact that we haven’t asked enough: