I received this question from our anonymous Have A Question page a couple of days ago:
Making love vs. having sex, what is the difference? What does this look like practically in the context of a Christian marriage? From what I have read, having sex often lacks emotional care and concern for the other sexual partner whereas making love is about satisfying the other partner and forming a deep emotional connection during sex. Do you have any suggestions for enhancing making love or deepening the emotional connection during sex?
Someone is going to get mad at me for this one, I can feel it. But, here we go anyways.
What’s the difference between “having sex” and “making love”?
There is no difference between having sex and making love.
I think this is a holdover from the traditional Christian viewpoint that sex is a necessary evil. Many Christians still cringe when they hear the word “sex” used. So, in order to avoid saying it, they use the term “making love”, because it sounds less distasteful.
But, in reality, it’s the same actions, the same chemicals are involved, the same fluids exchanged, the same funny noises and faces made. As Shakespeare wrote so many years ago:
What’s in a name? that which we call a rose. By any other name would smell as sweet. – Romeo and Juliet, Act 2, Scene 2, Line 47-48
So, call it what you will. Some people like to use the name “making love” to explicitly express that there is an emotional connection involved, that they mean an act that is more than just “having sex”, but to me, there is no just “having sex”, and I think we need to drop this distinction from our vocabulary.
Because I’ve heard of spouses having physical affairs and saying “It was ‘just sex'”, as if that makes it better. “Just having sex” is what people do when they hire prostitutes. “Just having sex” is what people watch in porn. We have this idea in our culture that “just having sex” is acceptable in some situations when it really shouldn’t be.
Because it’s never “just sex”. Sex will always involve a part of your mind, a tug on your emotions. It will always involve the same chemicals like dopamine and oxytocin. Every time, it changes your brain, rewiring it, either to be more strongly tied to your spouse, or less so.
So, no, I don’t think there’s a difference, and I think it’s dangerous to try and make one. God made sex. When we try to separate it, we cheapen God’s creation. We change it from being something holy, to being something holy only in certain situations. And make no mistake, things of God are holy, whatever the situation, whatever the circumstance. When Belshazzar drank from God’s holy implements, they were still holy, even when used in an unholy orgy, and his failure to recognize that is what doomed him. If you don’t know the story, you can read it in Daniel 5 in your Bible.
Sex is the same. Sex is holy, whether it’s being done in the context of a marriage bed, or outside of that context. In one case, it’s a proper use, in the other, it’s blasphemy. Blasphemy means to make “bring down” something holy, to use something that is holy in an unholy manner.
So, let’s abolish this distinction between “making love” and “having sex”. It lessens the respect for this wonderful part of creation that God has given to husbands and wives.
How do you make having sex more emotionally connecting?
I think the number one thing is to focus more on the person you are having sex with, and less on the sex itself. Focus on how it makes your spouse feel, on bringing them pleasure, on fulfilling their needs and desires, and you will find that sex is a very emotionally connecting experience.
But, when you focus on orgasm, when you focus on the stimulation, then it becomes a bit more of a physical activity.
Now, of course, it’s all on a spectrum. I don’t think you can have sex as a physical activity that doesn’t include an emotional connection any more than you can have sex that’s an emotional connection without having any physical activity. But, if you want to focus more on the emotional aspect, then focus more on your spouse, on what you are doing for them rather than to them.
Now, for those wives who are learning how to orgasm, this may help, or it might hinder. Often when women are struggling to orgasm, the advice is to focus on the feelings, on the pleasure, because you are working on building up the physical aspect of having sex. That’s not wrong, but we need to be aware of what we’re focusing on, on what our goal is. If your goal is to have an orgasm because that is lacking, then focus on the physical. If your goal is to build an emotional connection, because that is lacking, then focus on your spouse. Note: Some women find that they orgasm easier when they focus on their spouse and their relationship, so this universal, it’s just what works for the majority.
For the rest, focus on both, have fun, and you can probably manage to both have an orgasm and build an emotional connection.Have a Question? Ask it here!