*** Published 27 Oct 2010 ***
*** Presumably started as a comment on someone's blog entry, but I don't remember. ***
Your last statement, however, is troublesome: "friends' faith is damaged by feelings of sexual attraction". This is an association two of my friends seem unable to let go of. I have another friend, a female, who has been so aggravated by the fact that sexuality seems to be the root of the downfall of people, societies, civilization as we know it. Maybe that's right, but I disagree and think it just stems from not understanding it (both of you have expressed, extensively, your confusion over how people can be so ga-ga over sexuality), so it's easy to go all scapegoat on its A. :-)
I think you can make such an argument for rebellion in general. For lust and greed and hedonism in all its forms. After all, lust is not unique to sexuality, and sexuality is not lust.
I've seen people leave the church in relation to sexual issues, for sure. Much of the time, they come back later when the embarrassment of their actions has worn off, or when they "get it out of their system" and decide that what they were chasing after wasn't as fulfilling as they thought it would be, and they reassess where their true happiness is found. Sometimes, they go through a period of disbelief but come back with renewed, stronger conviction. Sometimes, they still believe but do not return to activity because they don't feel able to "fit in". Sometimes, they stay away, wondering why they waited so long to leave. Sometimes, whether or not they feel they can "fit in", they have been grappling with doubts and questions their whole life, and now, they no longer see fit to set those doubts aside and decide, instead, to let go and admit that they just "can't buy it" anymore, especially in light of opportunities which they had never considered but which now seem viable and fulfilling, and they can't keep holding on to the cultural benefits and comfort of home for the sake of appearing faithful. There's a wide spectrum out there. And I just can't justifiably chalk it up to, "well, they chose sex over their faith". But for those who believe that their faith is concrete truth (as latter-day saints do), the only explanation is that the person abandoned truth for something they wanted more. So I get what you're saying from that standpoint.
But people do the same with academia, or careers, or other pursuits. It's the application and focus and priorities, not the thing itself, which is the cause for departure or re-evaluation of what are core beliefs and what are peripheral.