Moral Lessons from the TV Show Vikings: “I must renounce you”


I love the TV Show “Vikings” on the History Channel.  I can’t help it.  The episode that aired on December 25, 2018 (S5 E15) was excellent.  About 14:30 into the show we see an exchange between two of the current main characters with graphic images of the dream to which he is referring: [no spoilers]


Bishop Heahmund (male) to Lagertha (female): “I must renounce you.  I must renounce our love.”

Lagertha to Bishop Heahmund: “I don’t understand.  What has happened?”

Bishop Heahmund: “The Lord came to me last night.  He showed me a vision.  A vision of Hell and the damned that must endure its fires for all eternity.  And I was afraid.”

Lagertha: “Afraid?  But it was just a dream.”

Bishop Heahmund: “No.  In my vision, the Lord our God spoke to me.  He told me I must renounce my sinful ways once and for all or I would never see His divine face.  I would never hear His divine voice.  Only the screams and lamentations of the damned.  You weren’t there.  You didn’t see what I saw.”

Lagertha: “You can’t do this.  You can’t do this to me.  I thought you loved me.  You know something.  I think you always loved your Lord, your God, more than you ever loved me.  I don’t think you ever did… love me.  Your soul… [she pokes him in the chest]… whatever that is… meant more to you than I ever could.”


The character of Bishop Heahmund was one that was introduced in Season 4 as a Bishop of the Church and also quite a tortured soul.  The scene in which he is introduced is a sexual one.  He is clergy in the Catholic Church and so such physical activities are forbidden based on their church polity.  The woman he was with was not his wife and so such activities are prohibited as God defines sex (Genesis 2:24-25, Acts 15:19-20, Galatians 5:19-21, 1 Thessalonians 4:3-5, Hebrews 13:4… among others).  However you chose to define it, the man was sinning.

He is an immoral man.  He is a sinful man.

I did not like his character at first, but my mind was changed and that change was solidified by the scene above.  My dislike had nothing to do with John Rhys Meyers and his portrayal of the character for he is a fine actor.  At the beginning of Season 4, in my head, I thought, ‘I have been a minister for over 20 years.  Don’t show clergy on TV doing rotten things!  Don’t show a clergyman sinning!  Don’t do that!’  By this episode, I was thankful.

MORAL LESSON #1: “Every single one of us is rotten”

You and I must understand that every single person around us is sinful.  Your sweet great granny is sinful.  The beautiful perfect can’t-do-wrong woman you just met is sinful.  The guy with whom you shoot baskets (that beats you every time) is sinful.  The pastor of your church is sinful.  Every single one of us is rotten in our hearts.  The Bible tells us simply, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).  ‘All’ means ‘all’ and no one is exempt.  Even men who have been called by God to serve Him in full-time service are sinful and must deal with sexual sin, lies, self-deception, hubris, and every other sin that human beings deal with.

To pretend we don’t sin is dangerous.  No one listening to Jesus in John 8:7 cast a stone because they knew they all had sinned.  The same Apostle who penned the exchange in John 8:7 wrote 1 John 1:8 which says, “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.”  I am a pastor and I am a lousy human being.  Admitting we are sinners is not an excuse to just give up or just do what we want.  To act like we are perfect or have no problems does our entire life and everyone around us a disservice.  We must admit we are sinners and walk towards our Savior.

MORAL LESSON #2: “You have to walk away”

Bishop Heahmund got caught in sin.  He served not only God but his baser physical needs which led him into sin (at least in the show).  He loved a woman who was not a Christian that led him away from his primary commitment to God and to his soul.  That’s a whole other blog.  He invested his emotions and his body in a relationship that did not honor God and led God to shake him through a vision.

The vision called Bishop Heahmund to walk away from his sin back to his Savior.

Lagertha had it completely and utterly right in the dialogue of the show.  The Christian man prioritized his relationship with Jesus Christ over everything this world was offering.  This included her for which she was angry.  It was hurtful for both of them, but you and I must prioritize our souls over the physical, emotional, materialistic, and philosophical temptations of this world.

Choose Jesus.

Choose to walk away from the relationship that leads you into sin.

Choose Jesus.

Choose to deny yourself, pick up the cross of Christ, and follow Him daily.

Choose Jesus.

Choose the health of your soul and the care of the salvation bought by Christ.

Choose Jesus.


Lagertha had it amazingly right (thank you writers of the show!).  Bishop Heahmund did, in fact, care more about his soul and about Jesus Christ than her.  He had his priorities correct for once!  His temptations and sin would not win his soul for he chose to renounce the love that he found with shield-maiden Lagertha and to recommit himself to Jesus Christ.

May you and I walk away from our sin into the arms of Jesus.


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