I hate that Showtime‘s series The Tudors is so sexually graphic. I hate this because I really like the show, but simply can’t endure the graphic sexuality in it. What I like about the show is not simply that it mentions, frequently, one of my favorite heroes from history (Martin Luther), nor that it’s about one of the most fascinating periods in history (the 16th Century). Rather my interest in the show is in it’s clear depiction of the progressive nature of sinfulness in the human soul.

Movies and television are our major modern form of story telling and they have a powerful way of communicating Biblical truths. These communications can connect with us and stir us and affect us in ways that simple propositions of truth cannot. The Bible is littered with stories that communicate theological truths. It is quite different, in that regard, than a Systematic Theology textbook which aims to communicate theological truths through propositions and arguments. Stories are powerful, and in The Tudors we have a very real and very disturbing depiction of the progressive nature of sinfulness in the human soul.

The most famous pictures of Henry VIII that we have today reveal a man who is old, fat, and tired looking. But what Showtime does is take us on the journey of how the monarch of England came to such a state. The Tudors begins with a young, handsome, and intelligent ruler (whether or not this is historically accurate may be up for discussion, but nonetheless it is the picture they give us). Certainly he is a womanizer, and an adulterer, but it’s more of a hobby than an all consuming lifestyle. As the story unfolds, however, Henry’s obsession with Anne Boleyn takes him into deeper and deeper sin. He not only pursues her with an outrageous lust, but he is willing to see his wife beheaded and his relationship with the church torn asunder to get what he wants.

Of course anyone who knows anything about Henry VIII knows that once he acquires his greatest desire in Anne his decline does not cease. He has begun on a road that leads only to ultimate destruction and to a legacy of debauchery and death. What this show does so well is to lay out just how far Henry will go to satisfy the desires of his sinful flesh, something we must all keep a look out for. Sin, when it has seized us, does not stop at one degree it progresses until it leads to destruction. The book of Genesis indicates this as the earth grows worse and worse after the Fall. In fact it finally grows so bad (Genesis 4 says every intent of man’s heart was only evil all the time!) that God decides to wipe the earth clean with a flood. Sin progresses and sinful human beings are constantly coming up with new and creative ways to sin against God. What starts out as lust turns to more and more and more, as is clearly evidenced by Henry VIII.

Part of the success of this show is its graphic depiction of the sinfulness of Henry, as it clearly displays the depth and destruction of sin in one soul and in those around him. But knowing and judging the weakness of my own heart I can’t continue to watch the series. So be forewarned, friends, the sin in The Tudors is real, but so is the Biblical lesson it warns us of.


  1. David,
    I like your final decision: “Bu”t knowing and judging the weakness of my own heart I can’t continue to watch the series.” Knowing myself, it is a decision you won’t regret.

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