Bad dream, unexpected reaction -- sin or not?

We can’t control our dreams. But suppose someone had a dream, an unwanted one, about something sexual happening between themselves and a person to whom they were not attracted… they begin to awaken and are half-dreaming…they imagine leaving the scene, rejecting the thought…but then think what-if, how bad would it have been, would it be that nauseating?..then, unexpectedly and suddenly, their body responds as if the dream were more welcome than it was. They mean to put the thought out of their mind immediately but in the laziness of half-waking dwell on the image a few seconds before realizing it’s wrong. Is it a sin?

Probably not. Once the person realizes they are awake they would need to make that effort to stop thinking about it. A few seconds is not sinful. Minutes? Probably.

no i wouldnt think, We cant help what we dream about. I would just forget about it.

In order to sin you must make a choice.

You cannot help what you dream about. Actions in a dream are not sinful since a dream pre-supposes that you are in a subconscious state.

So no you are not sinning.

It is sinful to willfully engage in sinful thoughts and take pleasure in the sinful thoughts.

What if the last few moments of the thought are while sort of awake, and theintent was to gauge the level of discomfort with the idea, not to enjoy it, and it became about half-enjoyable physically only at the end but emotionally unpleasant, and the person rejected the thought when it started to cause a physical response but it was slightly too late?

no, you need to make a conscious choice in order to commit a sin. When you are awakening from a dreamlike state, you are still somewhat unconscious. If you are still uncomfortable about it, you could always go confess to a priest anyway even though you really have done nothing at all wrong.

both the conscious and the subconcious are part of you. if you think thoughts like that are sinful while awake, then they are sinful while asleep. hence why i believe that thoughts in and of themselves are not sinful.

I would have to say, not sin.

If you came fully awake and deliberately continued to indulge the thought to, erm, physical reaction, then yes, it would be a sin. But if you are in a state where you are semi-conscious, not conscious enough to realize your dream/thought was sinful, you cannot sin. Sin requires full consent of the will. You can’t have full consent of the will while you’re asleep.

I would say no.

If you consider what your normal ‘awake’ response would be, and then consider what your response actually was, I would think it shows the level of consciousness you were at.

If you have a spiritual director, or good priest, you could ask them for advice.

No, you cannot sin while you are asleep or in a semi-sleep.

Lets take a look at the three conditions for a mortal sin:

  1. The act is objectively sinful. Yes, lust is objectively sinful.

  2. Full knowledge that said act is sinful.

  3. Full consent of the will.
    These are where the test fail. Since you don’t have full contol of your faculties while sleeping, you cannot commit a mortal sin (or, I’d argue sin at all). When you wake up, it may take a few minutes for you to calm yourself down once the hormones get pumping (i.e. think of nightmares). Also, these were probably some unwated thoughts in the first place.

A key sentence with the phrase “before realizing it was wrong” says it all. Until one realizes something is wrong, how would it be possible to sin? :slight_smile:

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.