The Boys' Growing Up in the Lord

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Question

I have had wet dreams before and never really thought about it much. I know that sometimes during sleep you can make yourself wake up, and I was wondering if while having a dream that you know or think will result in a wet dream and do nothing to prevent it, is it still a sin?

Answer

Let's back up a bit. Wet dreams come because your seminal vesicles are full and you need an ejaculation to get rid of the excess. Your body has an instinctive way for causing an ejaculation during the Rapid Eye Movement phase of sleep -- the same phase in which you dream. Without conscious thought your body goes through the motions of masturbation. Your brain participates by supplying dreams.

It is the dreams that are probably the most disturbing for Christians because images and concepts that we know to be wrong often appear in those dreams. Yet the simple fact is that we can't control those dreams directly. What we perceive as dreams is the brain reorganizing and connecting events and thoughts from the day to past memories to provide quicker retrieval. That is why dreams are often so weird; the connections aren't always logical, but that is why an odd statement or seeing something that seems completely unrelated makes us suddenly remember. We can't really control the making of these connections, or the accompanying dreams we have at night. We can limit the amount of bad material the brain has to work with, but living in a wicked world, we are going to get exposed to things we would rather not have known. And we still must deal with our dreams connecting weird ideas together.

I recall reading one man complain that he had a dream about sky diving and just as his parachute opened he ejaculated. What could possibly be erotic about sky diving, he wondered? But that is just the nature of the human brain.

I'm mentioning all of this to say that wet dreams, are not sinful. Sin is when you chose to break a law of God. "Whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness" (I John 3:4). There is no choice involved in a wet dream. Yes, there are times when you might be consciousness enough to wake yourself up, but since you haven't ejaculated, you've only delayed the process a bit. Or, you might be able to switch tracks, if you will, and force yourself to think about more proper things in your dream. But the reality is that you won't be able to do it all the time. It is just something you have to accept comes as part of the package of being male.