If only our dream experiences were similar to those of Joseph, Solomon, Jesus’ earthly father and other biblical characters. If only we were given divine instruction or were fortunate to meet heavenly angels in our unconscious states.
But no. Our dreams are more often than not a whirlwind of unexplained occurrences and strange happenings that leave our sheets in a tangled mess.
First, unlike the aforementioned biblical heroes, we have the whole and complete Scripture at our fingertips. Everything we need to know from now until the end of the age has already been revealed. This is not to say that God doesn’t still use dreams as a means of communication. If He wanted to, He absolutely could. But it’s, perhaps, less likely for this reason.
Second, I believe our entertainment—what we see, what we watch, what we hear—fills our heads with so much noise, our minds our forced to wrestle with these images, and our feelings towards them, when the lights go down and sleep takes over.
While there are many theories as to why we dream, and even more theories as to the interpretation of dreams, this fact is true: what we put in, must come out.
Matthew 15:16–18 says, “ ‘Are you still so dull?’ Jesus asked them. ‘Don’t you see that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and then out of the body? But the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart, and these defile them.’ ”
What goes in, must come out.
- Listen to negative lyrics laced with profanities? Don’t be surprised when they roll from your tongue.
- Look lustfully at the opposite sex and refuse to make a covenant with your eyes? Don’t be shocked when you act out your desires.
- Watch violent television shows or grotesque horror movies? Don’t be startled by pulse-pounding, sweat-inducing nightmares.
There is a reason we are called to fill our minds with: “ … whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things” (Philippians 4:8).
If you were to dissect your dreams and look at each part separately, you might find yourself saying, “Oh, that makes sense. There was a shoot-out in the movie I watched last night.” Or, “Of course I was able to scale buildings in my dreams—I can do it in the video game!”
There’s a reason Mom wouldn’t let you watch horror movies or ready scary books before bed. According to an article in the Chicago Tribune, “ ‘Watching a horror movie can cause a spike in adrenaline and cortisol levels. That can trigger memories of traumatic events you have experienced,’ said Bruce McEwen, professor in the neuroendocrinology laboratory at The Rockefeller University in New York, and past president of the Society for Neuroscience. So if you have a bad memory that you don’t want to subconsciously rehash, it would be best to avoid this genre until you’re ready.”
Certainly “rehashing” it could happen in your dreams, right?
Scary and violent movies can leave a lasting impression. Joanne Cantor, PhD, director of the Center for Communication Research at University of Wisconsin, Madison, told WebMD that she surveyed her students and found that “60% reported that something they had watched before age 14 had caused disturbances in their sleeping or waking life.”
While there is very little research on the connection between movies, television and dreams, one thing is certain: when we dream, our brains are attempting to sort through bits of information and emotions gathered throughout the day. If your brain was filled with two hours of violent or horrific images, one can imagine your dreams will reflect the emotions you felt when viewing those scenes.
As Matthew 15 suggests: what goes in, must come out.
How have you seen television and movies affect your dreams?