Do you remember this story from the Bible? It goes like this…
- A man is under such deep demonic influence distorting his mind that he is literally a mortal danger to others.
- One day, however, he comes near a man full of God’s Spirit and power. Instantly, the demonic stronghold in his life is broken.
- As a result, the formerly demonized man is overcome by the power of God and begins proclaiming the truth of God.
- One more detail worthy of note… While his mind was under the demonic control, he was fully clothed, but when the power of God’s Spirit controlled his actions, he stripped naked. He was, quite literally…
…Unclothed, and in his right mind.
Did I get the story right?
I think I did.
If you are thinking that I did not, then you must be thinking of a similar New Testament story found in Luke 8:26-39.
Actually, I’m describing an Old Testament story that is found in 1 Samuel 19:9-24.
- The demonized man is King Saul (1 Samuel 16:14-23), and he was influenced by the demon to kill David (1 Samuel 19:9-10)
- When Saul heard that David was with the prophet Samuel, he himself went to Ramah where Samuel and David were staying. Even as he approached the camp, he was overcome by the power of God (1 Samuel 19:23).
- In the power of God’s Spirit, Saul began to prophesy, speaking God’s truth (1 Samuel 19:23-24) and much more fully “in his right mind” than he had been before.
- While under the direct influence of the Spirit of God, Saul stripped naked and remained naked for a full day and night while prophesying with Samuel and the other prophets (1 Samuel 19:24).
Obviously, I told this story in this way to intentionally point out its parallels with the story of demoniac in Luke 8. Here’s why…
Those who try to use Scripture to say that social nudity is wrong are quick to jump on statement found in Luke 8:35 which declares that the demonized man, once healed, was found “clothed and in his right mind.” They then proclaim it as proof that going around naked must be a sign of demonic delusion, but that when one is healed and set free by Christ, it will be evidenced by the rejection of public nudity. In other words, they conclude…
… Demonized and naked — Spirit-filled and clothed.
But that’s not the only story in the Bible about a demonized man and nudity. As I have pointed out, Saul’s story is the exact opposite…
… Demonized and clothed — Spirit-filled and naked.
Which story gives us the definitive understanding? Both!! Public Nudity is not evidence for the presence of wicked spirits or of the Spirit of God!
It simply is not honest treatment of God’s Word to attempt to make either passage more important than the other in reference to nudity and the presence of God’s Spirit in a person’s life.
A Few Objections…
Before I close this post, let me address a few likely objections regarding how I have treated the passage in 1 Samuel 19.
- Objection: Saul wasn’t fully naked… he probably had on a loincloth.
Answer: The Hebrew word used to describe Saul in 1 Samuel 19:24 is the very same one used to describe Adam and Eve in Gen. 2:25. Adam and Eve were completely naked. The same word is also used in other passages (Job 1:21, Eccl. 5:15) to describe the nakedness of newborn children. Nowhere in the rest of its biblical usage does the word ever refer to anyone who is wearing anything at all. The word means “fully naked.”
- Objection: The company of the prophets with Samuel was comprised of men only, and no one else saw him.
Answer: While it is probable that the prophets were only men, it is clear that Saul was seen by more men than just the other prophets. The reaction to Saul’s prophesying naked for a day was the the reason people were asking, “Is Saul also among the prophets?” (1 Samuel 19:24). Had he not been seen by others that day, they would not have wondered such a thing. Of course, I cannot claim that women saw him, but neither can anyone else claim that they did not; the Scriptures do not say either way.
Interesting Note: It is worth observing that the public sight of a prophet prophesying naked must not have been a notable departure from the norm for prophets, for the people did not wonder why their king was naked, they wondered when he became a prophet!
- Objection: Saul was in a trance and was actually out of his mind when this happened. It wasn’t true prophecy, but rather mindless babbling.
Answer: This is the most egregious error of these three objections, for it contradicts the clear words of Scripture. 1 Samuel 19:23 says that “the Spirit of God came even upon him, and he walked along prophesying…” The suggestion that this was not truly God’s Spirit at work borders on the blasphemy of attributing to demons that which is actually the work of God.
(For the record, I did not make up this third “objection”… I’ve actually faced it in discussions with other people!)
It is possible to be naked, yet fully in one’s “right mind.” My purpose for this post is to demonstrate that—for the honest student of the Scriptures—Luke 8 cannot be used to prove otherwise.
(This post is in partial fulfillment of my intent to more fully answer the “rebuttals” listed in Does the Bible Ever Condone Social Nudity?)