The Boys' Growing Up in the Lord

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I want to discuss something with you. I had a dream that a girl is giving me a hand job. Why is that? Am I in trouble?

David (age 17)


I assume you are referring to a wet dream; that is a dream where you end up ejaculating semen.

Let's start with some basics. When you sleep you go through different phases. One of those phases is called the Rapid Eye Movement (REM) phase where dreams occur. A typical person goes through four to five cycles of REM per period of sleep. During REM the body is more active than during the deeper periods of sleep. Your heart rate goes up a bit, you might move around or turn over in your sleep, a few even talk in their sleep during these periods. For men it is also a period when you get an erection.

Sleep and dreams are very important to your health. Not only does the body get a chance to rest and recuperate from the exertions of the day, but your mind has a chance to organize all the experiences that you had. Bits and pieces of things you have seen or heard are connected to past events or to ideas. Generally the brain goes overboard on the connections and then when a connection is rarely or never used, prunes the unneeded connection. But sometimes the associations can be strange. Have you ever had someone say a chance word or saw something and suddenly thought of something totally unrelated, but that word or event reminded you of that thought. That is your brain at work.

When you dream, you are, in a sense, watching and experiencing the connections being made. That is why dreams can be so bizarre. Fragments of a scene from a show you watched is blended with an event at school which is combined with a fear that you have and you can't make heads or tails why you are dreaming such weird things.

Now add to the mix that your body is still working out how to make use of your sexual organs. Your seminal vesicles get full, sending signals to the brain that it needs to be emptied. You're having an erection, so signals are coming in that you are sexually aroused. The brain responds with sexually connected ideas. You probably have masturbated, so your brain remembers what that is like. You are interested in girls, planning to marry one day. You overheard someone in the locker room bragging about getting a hand job and wondered what it was like. And the next thing you know your brain is threading all these disjoint ideas into a dream. The body responds by getting really aroused and you start going through the motions of sex in your sleep, which just reinforces the dream that you're having, and then .... you have an orgasm and ejaculate.

You cannot directly control your dreams. The connections being made are out of your control. Thus, having a wet dream about something that you know is sinful is not in itself a sin. The only thing in your control is the material your brain has to work with. You are not going to be able to keep all evil from your notice. Otherwise, as Jesus said, we would have to leave the world. "I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one" (John 17:15). But we can minimize the bad ideas that we are exposed to. That means being willing to turn off the TV when the gratuitous sex scene shows up, or refusing to watch a show that you know will probably have one. It means refusing to listen to songs that talk about sex outside of marriage. Like Job, we have to control what we look at. "I have made a covenant with my eyes; Why then should I look upon a young woman?" (Job 31:1).

You, I, and every other man have struggled with dreams that we have had. Recognize that you have a vulnerability which Satan could use against you and keep your guard up. But don't beat yourself up over something you can't control.