But the following humorous story may caution my readers to remember that the aging body can still be accompanied by a clear mind — and human dignity as well.
It is said that an elderly man of wealth suffered greatly from some of the physical effects of aging, and in particular, from hearing loss.
He sat in the family room much of the time, head down, eyes half closed while his household buzzed with the comings and goings of two generations. He took no part in the conversations, and family members paid him little attention.
One day he learned about a hearing specialist in a nearby city who had developed a simple procedure to greatly improve the hearing of his elderly patients.
The wealthy man made an appointment and had the procedure done.
He returned to his home to resume his position in the family room — eyes cast down, and still silent amidst the sea of chatter that went on constantly.
When he returned to the physician’s clinic six weeks later he was asked if his hearing had improved. He replied, “It surely has; I’ve changed my will three times.”
This story may hint humorously at how far from Judeo-Christian standards western civilization is slipping on this score.
For ancient Israel, respect for the elderly was a holiness issue. It is addressed in the holiness code along with the sins of defrauding a neighbor and spreading slander (Lev. 19:13,16) ). And Leviticus makes clear that where the elderly are involved, the Lord is watching.
Leviticus 19:32 says, “Rise in the presence of the aged, show respect for the elderly and revere your God; I am Jehovah.” For Christians both young and old, this admonition, if taken seriously, will bring grace and clarity of witness to the community of God’s people.