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                                         Biblical Relationships (And You Thought Yours Was Bad!)
                           (note: Article first appeared in The Examiner when I was a Relationship columnist there for 5 years)

  “What are you reading?” my husband asks, seeing me deeply engrossed in the same book for two nights straight. “It must be good.”
     Oh it is, I tell him. It is a book about seduction, hot sex with multiple partners, schemes to have a rival eliminated, incest,
     murder, mayhem, thievery, family violence, sexism, surrogate mothers, polygamy, religious intolerance, and bloody wars.
     All the typical situations you’d expect to find in a best seller.
    “And the author is?”
    “God,” I say showing him the Bible.
      As a relationship writer, I need to keep the well pumped, so to speak, for new ideas. Having gone through articles on messy
    celebrity divorces and problems of the rich and brainless, I decided the Bible might have some good, sane information
    on the relationship between man and woman.
      Sane isn’t what I found. Many of the relationships I read about rival their modern-day counterparts in absolute shock value. Talk
    about drama of epic proportions—this book invented the genre! Take the story of Genesis starring Adam and Eve.
    Here’s a man and woman who are, literally, in paradise. This is the real one, not the one you find at an all-inclusive resort
    in the Caribbean; the original deal, designed and landscaped by God. They have everything. There’s just one little no-no in this
    perfect land of honey. They are forbidden to eat the fruit of one tree. In fact, God tells them, in no uncertain terms,
    DO NOT EAT THE FRUIT! (God believes in big letters and underlining). So what do they do?
    They eat it!
      When they’re caught, they immediately start assigning blame.  The man, utters a line that has been documented as the first ever
   case of sexism, by immediately saying, “The woman made me do it!”
      She in turn, looks around and blames another creature by telling God, “The snake told me to do it!”
    (To which I’m sure God was tempted to reply, “Adam, you’ve got free will, no one can make you do anything, and Eve,
    listen if the snake told you to jump off a cliff, would you do that too?” but God being God refrained from saying these things.)
      Then the couple makes matters worse by attempting to slur the heretofore unblemished reputation of the snake by calling it
   the Devil. They lose Paradise and have to actually work for a living causing tremendous marital discord.
   Sexism, defamation of character, diminished lifestyle; Genesis has it all.
       Now if you like watching weepy made for TV movies that begin with infertility, surrogacy gone wrong and end with jealousy
   and “cat” fights, then the story of Abraham, Sarah, and Hagar, is made for you.
   Sarah and Abraham are having difficulty conceiving so Sarah attempts to solve the problem by using the ancient tradition of
   surrogacy. At that time unfortunately, surrogacy meant handing over a female servant to sleep with your husband so he could
   get her with child. A little troubling for any wife.
       Hagar, Sarah’s servant, gives birth to a son, Ishmael, and, fool that, she is lords it over Sarah, the first and only wife,
    for thirteen long years. But guess what? Miracles do occur, this is the Bible after all. After all those years of trying, Sarah
    finally gets pregnant and gives birth to her own boy, Isaac! Then like rival lionesses fighting over territory, the fur begins to fly
    and the mommy jealousy factor kicks in hard.
      But Hagar is finished yet. She preens it over Sarah that Hagar’s son is the first born and so is the true heir, but Sarah shouts back
   something along the lines that says,
   “Hey, listen servant, I happen to be THE wife here and my son is the legal heir. Your son is only the child of a lowly,
   unmarried I might add, concubine. I have had it with you! We’ll see whose son is the legal heir. Abraham? Abraham!!I need to speak
   with you now!!”
   Ah, motherhood!
      Knowing that two women with rival sons can never, ever live peacefully in the same tent together, and agreeing with Sarah
   that her son really is the legal heir, Abraham decides to use the standard practice for getting rid of a troublesome woman.
   He banishes Hagar and her son to the desert to with only a basket of food and a bottle of water. Spousal abuse and child abuse
   all rolled into one!
    Thank goodness an angel, on a mission from God, happens to be winging it over the desert just when Hagar is at her
   wit’s end, running out of both water and food. The angel saves both the foolish Hagar and young son Ishmael. Where do you think
   that old saying, “God watches out for fools and little children” came from in the first place? Uh-huh, the Bible.
      For sheer drama, read about the craziness of David and Bathsheba. Exhibitionism, adultery, an unexpected pregnancy, a non- 
   compliant husband, and premeditated murder, makes this one of the best relationship stories.
    Bathsheba was a bit of an exhibitionist who liked to bathe nude on her rooftop. Seeing this one morning during his daily walk,
   David decides that he absolutely must meet her. That he has a slew of wives and concubines to scratch his sexual itch doesn’t
   matter; he invites her for dinner. The after dinner entertainment is a game called getting to know to know you in the, ahem,
   Biblical sense.
      A few months later, Bathsheba is telling David he’s going to be a daddy, and that yes, the child is his because her husband is
    away at war and she doesn’t sleep around. Not to worry says Dave, he has a plan. He’ll call her husband back from battle,
   she’ll seduce him, and pass the kid off as hubby’s.
     But the plan goes south because her husband will not sleep with her. Why? Because he is valorous, honest, and a man’s man;
    he cannot bring himself to rise to the occasion and enjoy sex with his hot, young bride in a soft luxurious bed knowing that his
   fellow soldiers are sleeping on the hard cold ground. (Bathsheba, lying all perfumed and naked before him, was said to have
   nastily remarked that at least something was hard!) But, nothing she could say or do would get her husband, noble Uriah, to mount
   her instead of his horse.
     Suffering from bloating and morning sickness, the unfaithful wife is getting panicky and goes to the king. David devises yet
   another plan. He sends Uriah, to the head general on the battlefield, with a sealed note.The “I-trust-others-because-I-myself-
   am-trustworthy” Uriah has no idea he is carrying his own death sentence. The King's orders state that Uriah be placed in the
   front lines and, once there, to be deserted by his men. He is mortally wounded. Shocked by being left to die by the very men,
   for whom he gave up a night of hot, passionate sex,
   rumor has it that his last words were, “What a (bleeping) idiot I am! I could’ve at least had one last, good…….,”
   before he keeled over.
    The wedding festivities of David and Bathsheba take place shortly after Uriah is killed but, of course, they don’t live
   happily ever after. Adultery and murder are not exactly the best way for any couple to start a marriage and of course,
   God isn’t gong to let this whole incident get swept under a rug.You know the phrase, “God will get you?”
   In the case of Solomon and Bathsheba it was totally accurate.
    With all the human pathos in its stories, no wonder the Bible is a top seller. The only problem is that it seems
   male/female relationships haven’t really changed all that much over the centuries. Every human flaw mentioned in the Bible
   is still with us today.
     And it isn’t just in the Bible. It seems that all holy books from many religions have similar stories on relationships and their
   problems. Looks like man and woman have always been in need of relationship counseling and relationship writers.
    Whatever the reasons, the book has given this relationship writer a wealth of material to use for years to come. To which I can
   only say a very sincere and heartfelt, “Thank God!”
  © copyright 2022 Kristen Houghton all rights reserved
                                                                                    Age Non-Binary
                                                                Why You Are NOT Your Chronological Age
                                                                                               Kristen Houghton
I have made the executive decision to be age non-binary. That simply means that my chronological age does not define me at all
and that I refuse to submit to society’s stereotype of that age number.
Society has always had an obsession with damaging  statistics and stereotypes, non more so damaging than the ‘age stereotype’
one. Once you’ve passed a certain age—let’s say the ripe old age of 55 also known as the double nickel—you are relegated to
‘that age group’ of people. You know ‘that age group’—the supposedly denture-and-hearing-aid wearing, bladder-leaking, overmedicated, technology-incompetent, one-foot-in-the-grave-1930s-stereotype group of people. Commercials thrive on the stereotypes, love quoting (their own misguided) statistics, and enjoy pushing the fear button with ads for everything from meds
and medical devices most people will never need, to the Grand-Pad phone that is so simplistic it has only two phone numbers to
worry about—one for emergency and one for your grandkids. The commercials try really hard to bind us according to ‘that age
Recently I had a routine colonoscopy done and since I was going to be put lightly under for the procedure, the technician had
to ask me some questions. We were going along fine, the questions were routine, when another tech brought over my chart
with my driver’s license ID and my insurance card. The tech asking the questions glanced at the card, looked at me, looked back
at my driver’s license, looked back at me again and said, “Oh, sorry. I thought you were younger. There’s another set of questions
for your age group.”
According to society’s antiquated ideas about older people, anyone bound in the older age group should be content to sit on the
porch in the old rocking chair and reminisce about their ‘youth’. That is unrealistic and very disconcerting. It is also a dangerous misconception for us as well as all of society.
Double-nickels don’t fit the stereotype of what commercials would have us believe. There are people over 55 who are vibrant,
active, sexually active, run companies, play tennis, scuba-dive, travel, and enjoy all that life has to offer. That’s the majority of
people over the double nickel by the way, not the elite minority as big pharma would have you believe.
Speaking of people who are age non-binary, Anna Wintour brilliantly runs Vogue and she’s 70. Meryl Streep, who played a
version of Ms. Wintour in The Devil Wears Prada, is 71. Mary Delaney invented collage at the age of 72. Frank McCourt and
Laura Ingalls Wilder were 66 and 65 respectively when they achieved success. My neighbor, Jessica Holms, ran her first
marathonat the age of 59 and came in third place. Wintour, Streep, and my neighbor have said “I don’t feel my age, I feel so
much younger.”
So what exactly does it mean when we say, “I don’t feel my age, I feel so much younger”? Chronological age is tied to our birth
years, yet older adults routinely report feeling 10 or 20 years younger than what the year they were born says they should feel
andthat’s a positive. Why is it a positive? Feeling younger than your chronological age is actually a very good sign of physical
and mental health. You have positive expectations about life which considerably lowers mortality. See? I think we need an age
non-binary concept for people who not only don’t look their age but feel at least 20 years younger. Age stereotypes pigeon-holes
people in all aspects of their life—work, social interaction, and in dealing with the medical and pharmaceutical establishments.
Age stereotypes tell us that after a certain age, certain things and activities aren’t possible for us anymore and, if we attempt to
do them, we’re the exception of our ‘our advancing age’ and not the norm. This is not true at all.
There’s chronological age and there’s psychological age. From your birth to today, that’s chronological. Okay, it’s there but it’s
not you if you don’t want it to be. It should not define you. Stay healthy, keep active, and put that ‘actual age’ aside. Don’t let
it force you to become what others say you should be. Put chronological age away and focus on the age you feel. That’s your true
age. Ageless and non-binary.
© copyright 2022 Kristen Houghton all rights reserved
Author Kristen Houghton is ‘over the double nickel’, plays a mean game of tennis, does Ballet Barre, and scuba dives.
She identifies as ageless. (anywhere from 35-50!)
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