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Are we accountable when we do something in our dreams?

Dreams - One way that God reveals His will to men and women on earth. Not all dreams are revelations, however. Inspired dreams are the fruit of faith.

– Guide to the scriptures

Dreams can be an avenue that our Heavenly Father can reveal inspiration and revelation. Joseph dreamed dreams and interpreted them for others. Lehi had a dream of the iron rod.

Yet for many of us, dreams are stories and images our mind creates while we sleep. Many experts say that dreams exist to help solve problems in our lives, incorporate memories, and help us process emotions. Sigmund Freud believed dreams are a window into our subconscious. He believed dreams reveal a person's unconscious desires, thoughts, and motivations. Freud thought dreams were a way for people to satisfy urges and desires that were unacceptable to society.

If dreams are a way for people to satisfy urges and desires of their heart, then are we accountable for our dreams. If we cheat, lie, steal, murder, or commit other sins in our dreams, does that signify that we have the urge or desire to cheat, lie, steal, murder, or commit other sins in our real life? The Bible teaches “that whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.” (Matthew, 5:28). So, we are taught that we do not actually have to commit the sin of adultery to commit it in our hearts. Are our dreams the same way? If we have a dream about a sin but do not actually commit the sin, have we still committed the sin in our hearts?

Dreams come involuntarily from our subconscious and we have no power over them. Just as we cannot control the fact that we are tempted, so it is that we have no power over our thoughts while we sleep. When we have no control over self-determination, we are not accountable. What we can control is what we do with the temptations or dreams. What makes us accountable for our dreams is what we do with them when we are not sleeping. Dreams can help us become self-aware of our deepest longings, conflicts, fears, and feeling. If we come aware of a deep longing, conflict, fear, or feeling during a dream and then begin to act on them while awake, we cross over from actions we do not have control over to actions that we do have control over. If we linger on the dreams, we continue to fantasize about the dreams, or we long to have the dreams become a reality, we are voluntarily giving power to the dream and striving to make it a reality.

Dreams can be an avenue for us to receive revelation or they can be an avenue for us to receive temptations. In both cases, it is up to us act on them or reframe from acting on them. In both cases, it is our actions during our waking hours that determine our accountability. As we are counseled that “Each of us has the responsibility to choose. You may ask, Are decisions really that important? I say to you, decisions determine destiny. You can’t make eternal decisions without eternal consequences.” (President Thomas S. Monson, Decisions determine destiny). As we each have dreams that inspire us or tempt us, let us each exercise control to act on prompting or restraint from temptations to reach our eternal destiny.

“Your beliefs become your thoughts,
Your thoughts become your words,
Your words become your actions,
Your actions become your habits,
Your habits become your values,
Your values become your destiny.”
- Mahatma Gandhi

 

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