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Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Stand Up Before The Gray Head

There's a web page I ran across in my search for information about old age. Its called Elder Web. And on that site I learned some important things about Changes in Life Expectancy in the United States during the last century. For instance we white men have gained a 60% change in life expectancy at birth while black men have gained by 106%. That, it seems to me, says a ton about what went on in the USA during the past century. Check it out yourself. There's lots of other interesting information. For instance, the site lists links to
The Center for Social Gerontology, for example, is
"committed to helping society adapt to the dramatic increase in the numbers of old and very old, and to insure that older persons at all socio-economic and health levels are able to meet their needs and use their talents and abilities in a changing society. We undertake to lead, and even prod, policy makers and others to consider carefully the implications of the aging of America in formulating social policies and programs."
There's all kinds of other stuff on the Elder Web about AgingCareCollege ProgramsDiseasesElder LawEnd-of-LifeFinance and so forth. I didn't check it all out so I can't offer any recommendations. All I can say is that there are lots of resources for anyone interesting in surfing the web about aging. 

So, given all that, back to the Bible. What guidance does God's Word provide? Here are a couple verses I frequently use to poke at my younger friends. These are quotes from the KJV. They apply equally to women as well as to men. 
  • Thou shalt rise up before the hoary head, and honour the face of the old man, and fear thy God: I am the LORD. - Lev 19:32 KJV
  • The hoary head is a crown of glory, if it be found in the way of righteousness. - Pro 16:31 KJV
The words about honoring those of us with white hair are part of a list of practical applications of the moral law given to Moses. It flows from the fourth commandment that commands us to honor our parents and those placed over us. The assumption is that one with gray or white hair is a parent and thus deserves our respect. This is as Job said, 
Days should speak, and multitude of years should teach wisdom. - Job 32:7 KJV
As you can see from the proverb, this isn't necessarily always so. As Solomon suggests, that head of hair is a crown of glory IF "it be found in the way of righteousness." If an old man has lived in faith and walked the path of life in obedience to God's will and ways, then we all have much to learn from him. He brings what the Bible calls wisdom--practical, down-to-earth experience on a whole host of matters. Plus he brings a life of caring for his family and others. For this we owe him honor and respect, love and care. 

In much of American society this respect and honor for the aged is missing or slipping away. Why is that? Why so much disrespect for us old-agers? More on this next time.