Confessing a dream?

I know millions of people ask this all the time and we are not responsible for what we dream but…What if…You are dreaming something sexual, and you half wake up but still continue to dwell on the dream as if the dream were still going and then wake up to realize you don’t want to think about that? Likewise, what if you wake up or half wake up and You FULLY WANT to go back into the dream so you continue doing what you were doing? Isn’t that an act of the will? And furthermore, for MEN, What if you have a physical nocturnal emission? What if you truly don’t want to do that “sin” while your awake…and you know that when you get to sleep you’re not responsible for it? What then?

These are questions I have struggled with for a long time, and the answers have always been different. Some people tell me I need to confess them but when I do some of my friends tell me I should not confess my dreams. They tell me that if I am scrupulous, I am heading down a path that could destroy me! I"M JUST TRYING to remain HOLY especially before receiving our Lord! Am I CRAZY or something? A little help please.

“Wanting” to do something does not constitute a sin. You may have the strongest desires in the world to go back to what you were dreaming, but as long as you resist it with the intention of not committing a sin, you should be fine.

If you are half awake, and still dwelling on a sexual dream, there might be sin there if you are sufficiently awake to know what you are doing. You would have to determine that yourself. I’m not sure what you meant by “continuing to do what you’re doing”, I assume falling asleep and continuing the dream. Personally, I’ve never had a dream continue after falling asleep again, but maybe it does happen, I dunno.

As for nocturnal emissions, again, no sin there. You did not voluntarily, um, do anything to cause this, so there is no sin. In fact, the nocturnal emission itself is morally neutral thing that is not evil in of itself. It’s a natural thing that happens to most guys in their teen years AFAIK.

Don’t listen to the friends - it sounds like they’re as confused as you are…

If you’re not satisfied with answers you get from knowledgeable people, then ask your priest.

For what it’s worth, my answer is this:

Dreams are not under your control. Wanting a particular dream is not going to get it back unless you’re still partially asleep and therefore still partially dreaming, in which case you’re by no means responsible for it.

If you consciously dwell on something sexual, then it’s possible that you could end up doing something that was grave in matter, but if you were to just think about it in a state of half-wakefulness before deciding, when properly awoken, not to continue, then your ability to actively and completely assent to the action would be impaired, therefore no mortal sin takes place. Essentially, the operation of your mind must be active, deliberate and complete. You can’t have that if you’re still in a dream-like or a temporary ‘fugue’-like state.

Nothing you have written suggests to me any chance of mortal sin. It’s got to be pretty darn deliberate to do something mortal.

For what it’s worth, in the Eastern Churches, such dreams are thought of as a kind of moral “pollution” and the Fathers did say that we could have been culpable beforehand by things we read, did, conversations we had or even by overeating etc.

In any event, there is a formal office of psalms and prayers asking forgiveness for such “sleep pollution” that is often included in prayerbooks.

Psalm 50 and some others, some Jesus Prayers with prostrations, are included.

It is always important to spend some time in prayer before sleep and include some spiritual reading.

I find that that keeps our dreams - and passions - well, dormant.

I don’t think it is a question of “sin” but of less than virtuous feelings that can be expunged by some spiritual exercises.


A good general rule is: unless you are “awake” one does not commit a mortal sin.

If you sincerely doubt you were fully awake one has good reason to judge it was not mortal…

Now if one wakes up fully… then lustfully thinks about dream (perhaps later at work…)…or decides to “try to have that dream again” or wants it to happen again…hoping for some nocturnal entertainment…somehow the next night…such can be a different matter!

(but be aware that soon after you wake the “impressions or thoughts” of the dream can still “haunt you” and push their way into your thoughts (for one just woke up and they can linger in ones mind) …but simply try to turn to other matters …simply do not consent to them…and do not scruple :slight_smile:

Thank you so much. Just last night I had the most disturbing dream I have ever had and when I awoke I knew I hadn’t committed any mortal sin, but I seriously did not feel like praying or doing any spiritual exercises at all. So what did I do? Exactly what I needed to do. Pray to Jesus to remove those thoughts and to give me fortitude, go to mass, pray morning prayer and office of readings, and my most beloved moment…receiving Our Lord Jesus Christ in the most Blessed Sacrament. Things are starting to get much better and God is helping me with my scruples. Praise Him people because He is always Good. Thanks be to God.

I strongly disagree with this line of thinking. There IS no guilt in a dream, no matter how vulgar or sexual the content. You can’t be culpable by previous actions unless you specifically intended to have such dreams, in which case the guilt would be in the desire, not the actual dream. Also, praying for forgiveness when you’ve done nothing wrong, is illogical. If there is no sin in a dream, then you are falling into scruples by praying for forgiveness for such a dream.

The most important thing to do, is to be sure you do not allow any immoral content in a dream to stay with you after you wake up. Shun all thoughts of the dream, and any desire to dwell on them will pass in time.

God bless.

I tend to agree with that thought although, If you do hold on to the thoughts but are trying to be rid of them, then it may be good to petition the Lord with prayer.

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