Love is in the air … love and Bible sermons. This next season of “19 Kids & Counting” will feature the courtship of daughter Jessa Duggar, 20, who is being pursued by her Dad- and Jesus-approved beau Ben Seewald for lifelong baby-making. The lovebirds met in church — where else? — and asked their parents for permission engage to monitored texting and phone calls about, People scandalously dishes, topics ranging from theology to Scripture. But don’t call what Jessa and Ben are doing “dating.” Dating, as Duggar patriarch Jim Bob explains, is when a couple pairs off alone and “that sometimes leads to a more physical relationship.” Jessa and Ben are formally “courting”: their love affair will blossom under the watchful eyes of both of their parents (and the 47 children they have between them). Courting, explained Jim Bob, “is getting to know each other in a group setting, both families spending time together and the couple setting goals together to determine if they are meant to marry.”
So what do these crazy kids do when they’re not texting about Galations 5:16 (“But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.”)? Michelle Duggar revealed to People, probably after asking her husband’s permission to speak to a reporter, “Dad allowed them to do a side hug when they were officially courting.” She continued, making it sound side hugging was Jessa and Ben’s idea themselves:
“Jessa and Ben have said that was the only contact they would have, when they initially greet each other, when he comes to visit for their first hello, they have a quick 30 second or less side hug and a goodbye side hug and they agreed that would be the only contact they should have.”
We are very excited for Jessa and Ben to experience the side hug — a body language move that we use to show the minutest amount of social acknowledgement to coworkers we don’t like very much — not once but twice per interaction. As blogger Lilit Marcus pointed out at the blog Faith Goes Pop, Jessa’s older brother Josh Duggar was only allowed to hold hands while courting and did not kiss his bride until they were married. Clearly Jim Bob is feeling more liberal these days. We implore him to consider allowing his daughter and her beau to engage in these exciting courtship moves — but only if he thinks it will not lead her down the path to sin:
2. The Phone Home. Popularized by the movie “E.T.”, this form of finger-touching communicates friendship and connection without the removal of a single item of clothing or the swapping of a single drop of saliva. After many months spent conversing about Scripture, the courters may find themselves wanting to add the The Phone Home when they bid each other adieu.
4. The Hand Hover. Best practiced while entering and exiting a house of worship, Ben can allow his hand to hover over Jessa’s lower back area as a signal of masculine protection and care. Although he must take caution to keep a feather’s distance away from Jessa’s hiney or incur the wrath of
God Jim and Michelle.
5. The Elbow Link. If these two courters are not quite ready for the intimacy of hand-holding — it’s a lot!– they can link arms and get to know each other’s elbow joints until they move onto the more nerve-rich parts of their bodies. We’re talking about their hands, you heathens.
7. The Full On Hand-Hold. Once their families conclude that these lovebirds are fit for a lifetime of pair-bonding and reproduction, they will finally be ready to explore the inside of each other’s finger webbing. Ben can start by clasping Jessa’s hand (see above) and when inspired (and given permission by her parents), he can slowly and gently slip his fingers between Jessa’s in a full expression of love. Not only will their hands be intertwined, but so will their hearts. God bless these courters.