“Why does this man speak like this? He is blaspheming! Who can forgive sins except God?”
claiming insult for another
the disadvantaged need allies
the affected is the measurer
inciting blame tests community
Our givens that are non-negotiable do guide us in decision-making situations. They are also responsible for creating a wilderness around us that others can enter with only a great deal of trepidation.
In an honor/shame culture the unspoken rules of who can insult whom are very strong. When it comes to blasphemy, there is no substantial distinction to be made between an insult and an assault.
One of the on-going debates regarding G*D is how thin-skinned G*D might be.
Regardless of the form of a G*D-oriented person, institution, culture or nation, its theocratic tendency is measurable by the rigidity or laxness of what it takes to insult said G*D. Prophets and healers can get away with a fair amount in a given situation. However there comes a point when some line in the sand is crossed, knowingly or not, and things are never the same.
We have here a kernel of creedal bottom line—forgiveness.
The passive voice of “your sins are forgiven” did not spell out clearly enough the honor due G*D as the final arbiter of forgiveness. All manner of assumptions could begin to gather around this relatively benign phrasing that would lead to a diminishment of G*D by way of an insult that throws the authority to punish or release into doubt.
This same understanding of authority boundary violations has been present in every age. Rulers do like to rule. When G*D is added into the mix, control issues rise to the top of the agenda. Homogeneity or group-think is one sign of a wilderness area. Woe be to any who are not scrupulous in saying things in an approved manner.
Jesus, familiar with the creative and destructive aspects of wilderness, carries wilderness as a loyal and informative friend where’er he goes. When facing mutterers, this urgently needed gift steadies.