What Does the Bible Say About Wet Dreams?

In the Old Testament, the Bible says wet dreams make a man unclean. The Bible doesn’t say wet dreams or nocturnal emissions are sinful, but they may reveal deeper desires in us.

What is a Wet Dream?

A wet dream is when a man ejaculates while sleeping. Wet dreams typically begin for boys around the time of puberty, and tend to happen less and less as guys get older. A wet dream usually happens while having a dream about sex – but not always. 

Doctors refer to wet dreams as “nocturnal emissions” or “sleep orgasms.” 

Women can have wet dreams as well, but these are much less common.

Some believe a wet dream is simply a release of semen – there’s nothing you can do about it. As semen builds up, it needs to be released.

We won’t pretend to be doctors here. I don’t know exactly what causes them and if they can be prevented, but I do know almost all men have them and I know that most boys face a lot of questions and confusion as their bodies mature.

Does the Bible Mention Wet Dreams?

Believe it or not, the Bible does actually talk about wet dreams in the law:

  • If a man has an emission of semen, he shall bathe his whole body in water and be unclean until the evening. (Leviticus 15:16)
  • If any man among you becomes unclean because of a nocturnal emission, then he shall go outside the camp. He shall not come inside the camp (Deuteronomy 23:10)

In the law, an emission of semen – whether at night or otherwise – made a man unclean. A standard emission of semen meant the man must bathe and remain unclean until evening. If a man had a wet dream, they actually had to go outside of the camp.

It’s important to note here that there was a long list of things that made one unclean under the Mosaic law – many were things someone couldn’t necessarily control. For example, a woman was unclean during their period.

Thankfully, we’re not only these ceremonial laws anymore, thanks to the sacrificial and cleansing work of Jesus.

Are Wet Dreams Sinful?

Ultimately, we can’t control what we dream about or what our bodies do while we sleep. So we wouldn’t say wet dreams are sinful in and of themselves.

That said, we often (not always) dream about things we have filled our minds with and meditated on. If you’ve been meditating on and thinking about sex, it’s pretty common that you would dream about it.

When you have a wet dream, you should ask yourself, “Have I been exposing myself to sexual images or thinking about sexual things?” Even if you’ve been storing images of women showing off their bodies. Jesus tells us, “But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” (Matthew 5:28)

Jesus tells us that even thinking on sex is a form of adultery or prostitution. So while having a wet dream in and of itself isn’t an act of sin, it may very well be the result of lustful and sinful thoughts.

What Does the Bible Say About Dreams?

Let’s pause for a moment and look at dreams as a whole throughout the scriptures. There are a few key truths from the Bible about how dreams work:

1. Dreams can be false.

Zechariah 10:2 tells us, 

“The household gods utter nonsense,

    and the diviners see lies;

they tell false dreams

    and give empty consolation.

Therefore the people wander like sheep;

    they are afflicted for lack of a shepherd.”

This is the simple truth: False dreams can exist. This doesn’t mean you should pretend to have a dream even though you don’t. These people didn’t dream of achieving their dreams. It’s not what it actually means. They are claiming their dreams have a certain meaning. False meanings exist. We are not the only ones who have dreams.

My first exhortation to you is to say to the Lord, to the dream, and to Satan, “That was false dream.” This does not mean that I am not faithful to my wife. I want to be faithful to my spouse. I’m not unfaithful to my wife. “Those dreams are a lie.” This is based on the Bible’s reality that there is a false dream.

2. Dreams can be warnings.

Job 33:14-18 tells us:

“God speaks in one way,

    and in two, though man does not perceive it.

In a dream, in a vision of the night,

    when deep sleep falls on men,

    while they slumber on their beds,

then [God] opens the ears of men

    and terrifies them with warnings,

that he may turn man aside from his deed

    and conceal pride from a man;

he keeps back his soul from the pit,

    his life from perishing by the sword.”

This text shows that God does indeed use dreams to terrorize us and give us warnings to humble ourselves and avoid sin. If that is true, then one way to view sexually illicit dreams — those that involve doing illegal things in the dream –is that God is frightening us in our dreams about the terror of this prospect in real-life, so we don’t do it.

If you’re regularly pushing the boundaries with someone who isn’t your spouse – touching breasts, engaging in anal sex, or having oral sex – a wet dream may be a warning to get some help.

Now we’re back to the idea of being tested, as it was said earlier. Will the dream have the God-appointed effect humbling us and frightening us about our own sinful tendencies? Will we be able to hold him in our waking lives for pureness?

3. Dreams can reveal our desires.

Isaiah 29:7-8 says,

“The nations that fight against Ariel . . .

    shall be like a dream, a vision of the night.

As when a hungry man dreams, and behold, he is eating,

    and awakes with his hunger not satisfied,

or as when a thirsty man dreams, and behold, he is drinking,

    and awakes faint, with his thirst not quenched,

so shall the multitude of all the nations be

    that fight against Mount Zion.”

The point of this text is that nations who believe they will win against Israel won’t win. This is the point.

As already mentioned, it is common knowledge that people who are thirsty might dream about drinking only to find themselves frustrated. A person might dream of eating and wake up hungry when they are starving. In the same way, sexual hormones and desires, as well as impulses and impulses born from nature, could make someone dream that he is having sex, making out, or engaging in foreplay. However, when he wakes up, he doesn’t remember he had sex.

However, this does not explain why you might dream about women other than your wife. This could be due to old fantasies that have been around for thirty, twenty, or fifteen years. These fantasies need to be broken. The point is that a physical desire like hunger, thirst, or sexuality can cause a dream that the cravings are being satisfied. The question is, what will you do in your waking life with this? It’s not enough that it’s happening.

What Do I Do if I’m Having Wet Dreams?

As we’ve discovered there are many reasons why we might dream. 

If you’re having wet dreams regularly, you should first ask the Lord to search your heart. Is it pure? Are you giving yourself over to sexual passions and fantasies? Were you giving yourself over to sexual fantasies in the past?

If with a clear conscience you can say you’re free of sexual sin, then I wouldn’t worry about it. It’s very possible it’s just a natural bodily function. Nonetheless, I would tell a close friend about your dreams and pray the Lord would deliver you from them.

If you can’t say with confidence that you’re fleeing from sexual immorality, here are a few suggestions:

  • Pray earnestly for purity in heart and mind
  • Tell some friends about your struggle and invite them to cover you in prayer
  • Spend time dwelling on the scriptures – especially as you head to sleep at night
  • Purge yourself of any and all sexually stimulating content. Consider getting rid of social media and stop watching sexually driven shows and movies.
  • Trust that there is no condemnation in Christ, and there’s hope for deliverance

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