Sometimes (not often) I say something that seems profound. A few Sundays ago I said to my adult Sunday school class (most about 50ish): “It’s easy to mistake lower testosterone for spiritual maturity.” I’d made this observation a few times in the past, but this time I got such a positive reaction, that I felt I should post it on facebook. Again, a reasonably positive reaction, except for one comment that asked me to expound. So perhaps I’d better.
Well, of course, the first thing I did was to Google “low testosterone.” After making my way past all the ads offering me remedies for this affliction, I found (among a few unmentionable things) the following information:
“In many ways testosterone is the stuff that makes men men. Throughout a man’s life testosterone maintains his make characteristics”
“Testosterone levels decline steadily after age 40. The decline is relatively small, at an average rate of 1 to 2 percent per year.” (If my math is correct, that would mean that at the age of 74 I am 1/3 to 2/3 less of a man.)
Some of the symptoms:
· Low energy or fatigue.
· Lower sexual desire.
· Deterioration of ability to play sports.
· Decreased “enjoyment of life.”
· Deterioration in work performance.
· Increased body fat (“pot belly”).
· Falling asleep after dinner.
On reflection, I find that to a greater or lesser extent, as I age I demonstrate all of the above symptoms. Of course, my wife Uni points out (rather smugly) that I have demonstrated that last symptom throughout our married life.
And this is the problem. Some (though not all) or these symptoms can be confused with characteristics of Spiritual maturity.
Like most men, I have struggled all my life with what the Scriptures describe as “lust.” Sometimes it is no more than a second look. I can honestly say that refraining from that second look becomes easier as I age. I find that while my desire for my wife has remained as intense as ever, I am less distracted by other women. Is this just a “symptom”?
Another issue I have struggled with is anger. I don’t blow up nearly as much as I used to. In fact, I can’t remember the last time. Is this just a side effect of the lack of competitiveness, which is seen as a “deterioration” in sports or work ability?
I spend a lot more time reading and meditating on the Scripture. Is this a sign of a closer walk with the Lord, or simply because my “low energy” prevents me from desiring more physical activity? (Of course, according to Larry the Cable Guy: “Old people read their Bibles more because they’re cramming for the Final.”)
Perhaps it’s not an either/or, but a both/and. Perhaps God in His grace allows a decrease in that which we regard as manliness so that we will be better able to concentrate on the things of the Spirit.
Could Paul have had this in mind when he said, “…though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day” (2 Corinthians 4:16)?