We are all familiar with ageist attitudes, remarks and jokes. We may even have smiled at them. They are generally thought to be acceptable rather than offensive, although remarks seen as sexist, racist, feminist, or against ‘British values’ may soon risk an arrest for a ‘hate crime’.
Louise Morse shows how widespread attitudes often become internalised by the elderly themselves. Many see themselves as useless, in the way, living too long, a burden on society and family and even responsible for the nation’s ills. The media can reinforce such socially accepted discrimination and we hear many references to the ‘problem of the elderly’.
Ageism fails to see the person beneath the limitations. The author takes a different view, reminding us that the Bible teaches that old age is a blessing and that the righteous will bear fruit in old age (Psalm 92:14). There is a theology of old age in Scripture which we neglect to the detriment of our churches (Job 29:8, Psalm 92).
Read here a well-researched examination of attitudes to the elderly in both society and the church. A failure of churches to see God’s rich plan for old age means that Timothy’s urging of the elderly to cascade teaching to the young and to share their wisdom and experience will be lost. Their value comes from many years of knowing their Lord and serving him. The church that expects its elderly to be involved in all aspects of church life and decision making is enriched by their presence. Churches which sideline their elderly are in poverty.
Here are stories of amazing achievements by nonagenarians and centenarians but also of those carrying out service in the church: preaching; singing; leading prayer and Bible study; caring for the sick; baby-sitting; organising teams of carers, cooks, cleaners or gardeners; and giving lifts. They are encouragers, counsellors, supporters and role models. They know the truth of Philippians 4:13 and have learned the value of Hebrews 4:12.
This is an important book for all ages. We need to see the lives of old people happy, fulfilled and useful, and the lives of younger people enriched through knowing them.