Disvaluing The Elderly

Do we really care about them anymore? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I was reading a Carl Trueman essay yesterday about a dangerous gift for his wife. In this case, it was some anti-aging material. As he writes about it, which he did wind up buying anyway, he does say our culture seems to want to live in a denial of our age. Youth is glorified. The elderly are cast aside.

If you read the book of Job, you will find Eliphaz at one point making an interesting statement. He tells Job that men with grey hair are on his side and that they are older than Job’s father.” If it was said today, it would be seen as an extremely weak point. What do they know?

Working at a seminary, there are many students here that are twenty years or more younger than I am. Something I notice about many of them is that they are not aware of events that took place before their time. I still remember working at the Wal-Mart in Tennessee and having to explain to one of the younger people there who the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man was.

Okay. There aren’t many major consequences from not knowing pop culture references, but too many times our young people don’t even really know about history before our time. Events like Challenger and 9-11 were the defining moments for my generation, but I knew about past events such as the assassination of Kennedy that also defined a generation.

Part of this goes with the denial of death that I wrote about yesterday. Youth is seen as the glorious time. We even think our youth at even extremely young ages can truly say that they know that they are the wrong gender. A teenage girl is supposed to decide that she can’t handle a baby in her womb when she has a hard enough time deciding what to wear in the morning.

And what do we do with our elderly? Well, we put them in nursing homes and other places and in many cases, they struggle with loneliness. My parents, being elderly now, tell me of many friends they have where their own children don’t even bother interacting with them anymore. The elderly are a goldmine of wisdom and great experiences of the past if we will but listen to them.

I don’t claim to be the best at this either. Could it be we don’t like to be around the elderly many times because it reminds us that one day, we will be them? Sure, grandpa might not understand how to work an iPhone and your great aunt Susie might post a personal post to you on your Facebook wall instead of sending it through a private message, but could it be that maybe one day, you will be the one not understanding the new technology someday?

Contrast this with the ancient societies. When we read about Jesus in the Gospels, many people often ask why so little was said about His childhood. These are people who have never read any other ancient biographies. Hardly anything was said about childhood. No one cared. It was the elderly that were the most respected.

Now I am not at all suggesting childhood doesn’t matter. It is important to recognize that youth is a gift from God just as much as old age is. It should be treasured. However, old age should be honored as well. The extremes of denying childhood any validity and treating old age like a disease to avoid are both wrong.

By the way to those of you out there who are elderly, here’s something I want to share as an idea. Start an online blog. What will you write about? Yourself. Write about you and your life and leave it for your future descendants who you will never see. You can also record online videos on YouTube. One of your children will likely be glad to show you how to do it. Leave a video diary for them. Talk about even the most mundane things going on in your day. What music are you listening to? What movies are you watching? If you play games, and some elderly people do play video games, what games are they? What did you do when you were their age?

By the way, if you have your children and grandchildren help you with this, that will be time you spend with them as well and they can hear about it from you. It’s a win-win. Give it a try.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

Support Deeper Waters on Patreon!