Smart teenagers don't have sex. A recent study at the University of North Carolina has discovered that bright teenagers delay their first kiss and become sexually active later than adolescents of average intelligence. Teenagers of average intelligence are up to five times more likely to have had sex than are teenagers with higher IQs, according to Dr. Carolyn Halpern, assistant professor of maternal and child health at UNC. Her team analyzed data on approximately 12,000 teenagers, and detailed information on the levels of sexual contact among 100 boys and 200 girls.
Dr. Halpern observed, "The association between intelligence and refraining from sexual intercourse was stronger for girls than for boys and stronger for older teens." The relationship between intelligence and postponing sex existed even with kissing or light petting, said her report in the Journal of Adolescent Health.
Researchers commonly assume that the link between good exam results and sexual postponement comes from teenagers' wish to preserve options such as university education. But Dr. Halpern noted, "Our results suggest that this is not the whole story. It is hard to believe that teens avoid kissing because they see it as the start of a slippery slope to possible pregnancy."
Why are smart teenagers resisting the temptations of premarital sex? Certainly they are not just following society's trend, which is growing more accepting of premarital sex. In the 1960s, 25 percent of young men and 45 percent of young women were virgins at age 19; by the 1980s, fewer than 20 percent of males and females were, according to a report in the Journal of Marriage and the Family.
A recent U.S. News & World Report poll revealed that 39 percent of Americans believe it is better to have sex with a few different partners before marriage, rather than remain chaste. Asked if it is a good idea for couples to cohabit before marriage, 50 percent either "strongly" or "somewhat" agreed.
But the facts disagree; studies have shown that cohabiting couples who marry are 33 percent more likely to divorce than couples who did not live together before marriage. Similarly, virgin brides are less likely to divorce than are women who became sexually active before marriage. Avoiding premarital sex is smart, indeed!
The Apostle Paul, in 2 Timothy 2:22, exhorts Christians to, "Flee also youthful lusts; but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart." Smart teenagers who avoid premarital sex are laying a foundation on which they can build a life of faith, love and peace, and a relationship with their Savior, Jesus Christ.
I'm Dr. Roderick C. Meredith, with commentary for the Living Church of God.