Are dreams subject to moral law?
In law, there is a recognition that only intent needs to be present for a crime to take place. For example, a person is guilty of the crime of conspiracy if plans are discussed and made to commit a crime, even if that crime is not subsequently committed. Likewise, there have been cases in which a person has ordered an assassination from what they thought was a hitman, only to discover it was an undercover police officer. Even though no murder took place—or even could take place—the perpetrators have been found guilty of attempted murder in court.
This being the case, are we responsible for our actions in our dreams? While we’re dreaming, it certainly seems real to us. Since no one can read our minds (yet) there is no way to prosecute a person for what she or he does in a dream, but do we bear a moral burden for the wrongs we commit while dreaming?
On a theological level, consider what Yeshua had to say on the subject of adultery:
“Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.” [Matthew 5:27–28]
In other words, on a moral plane, one is just as guilty for even thinking of it, even if one doesn’t actually perpetrate the act. This seems to argue that what we do in our dreams, while we are in the belief that it’s real, carries with it all the same moral rules as our everyday waking life.
I have read of at least one culture where it is customary to apologize to someone one had wronged in a dream, just as if it had actually happened. Once again, this seems to argue that we bear a moral burden in our dreams.
What do you think?
This question is in the General Section. Responses must be helpful and on-topic.