When Jessa Duggar entered into a courtship with Ben Seewald last summer, 19 Kids & Counting patriarch Jim Bob Duggar explained what that meant — from his point of view. In Growing Up Duggar: It’s All About Relationships, eldest daughters Jana, Jill, Jessa and Jinger finally got the chance to explain their interpretation.
“Getting to know the special young man we’re interested in within a family setting is one of the biggest differences in dating and courtship,” the girls said in one Growing Up Duggar excerpt, which was written before Jessa entered a courtship and possible engagement. They add a couple should only enter courtship if they both consider marriage to be a realistic possibility. “[Courtship] is a commitment period and a time for the guy to begin winning the girl’s heart, with a potential end goal of a short engagement to plan a wedding, then marriage.”
They rationalize that it’s easy to get a favorable impression of a man when you’re out at a fancy restaurant, where someone clears the dishes and leaves the suitor with time to say “whatever nice things he thinks you want to hear.” On the other hand, if you get to know a man in the context of a normal family setting, you are better able to see “if he’s willing to work hard and build a solid relationship amid real-life scenarios.”
To the Duggar daughters, another big difference between dating and courtship is “accountability” — or having other people around to monitor. Without others present, they warn “it’s easy to put yourself into physical and moral danger and give in to those emotions or sensual thoughts that promise pleasant, but only temporary, fulfillment.”
However, a following paragraph seemed to contradict the merits of only getting to know a man in a chaperoned setting: “First, if a guy cannot control himself with you before he is married, how are you going to trust him around other women after you marry him?”
Reading that section raised one big question in my mind: How would you really know whether a guy could “control himself” if you aren’t alone?
Without acknowledging that perceptible contradiction, the girls went on to talk about the perils of premarital sex. They say, “Physical intimacy in marriage is pure, wholesome, and beautiful. Outside of marriage, it spreads disease, death and destruction.”
The girls say they seek a Christian man with a gentle spirit and good amount of chivalry. More specifically: “What all of us Duggar girls hope for is a husband like our dad. But we know that’s asking a lot.”
For more on the Duggar daughters’ views on modern-day dating and courtship, pick up Growing Up Duggar.