I met a young lady who was desperate. She says she is under the control of a demon who makes love to her in her dream (incubus and succubus). This teaching on this spirit -- that makes love to people in their sleep -- is very widespread in charismatic circles in my part of the world. What is an incubus or succubus? And how can we help someone who claims to be a victim? I suggested that we should study the Bible together, and find an answer in Christ. -- K.A.

Incubus / succubus — you can learn what the terms mean online. The long and short of it: the incubus is the male demon preying on human women; the succubus is the female demon praying on human men. This assumes that demons have gender -- which is questionable. Perhaps angels, demons, and other spiritual beings are male or female, but we do not find this as a fact in the Bible.

Short answer: I tend to think of this more part of an erotic dream than anything directly connected with the dark spiritual world. (Of course, I could be wrong.) Certainly you are right in pointing her to Christ. The problem may simply vanish once she has repented and been baptized (Acts 2:38; John 3:5; Titus 3:5).

Yet her situation seems more complex than most non-Christians'. Now without knowing her and her situation, it’s impossible for me to be of much help. Yet if I were involved (shared in her and your culture), I would begin by asking her a few questions:

  • Is it possible you got the idea of this incubus from a charismatic church? (I know that sounds funny, but we shouldn't underestimate the power of suggestion.)
  • Have you been sexually abused? (As a child? Later? Was it a family member?)
  • Do you know what the Bible teaches about powerful temptations / experiences? I would show her 1 Cor 10:13 — a promise that (in Christ) we will not be overpowered by any temptation. I would also show her Col 2:13-15 — whatever the powers of darkness are, in Christ we are freed from them. They have no power over us.
  • Are you sexually pure? Are you living a celibate life? (Ignore this question, obviously, if she is married.)
  • Are you open to professional counseling? I wouldn't seek just any counselor; make sure the professional is faith-based.
  • Will you read the Word every day? Are you aware that the word will be written on your heart, and you will be protected, if you read and understand God’s word? I would show her Col 3:16 and Eph 5:18+. If she is not serious about learning, I would tell her there is nothing you can do for her. The power is in Christ!