It’s been barely over a week since Josiah Duggar and Lauren Swanson confirmed that they’re courting.
Though this is not Josiah’s first courtship — which is practically scandalous for the Duggars — the couple already seems to be over the moon about each other.
In fact, Josiah seemingly can’t stop gushing about Lauren. Which is very sweet … though some fans wonder if it’s an act.
Josiah Duggar is in a courtship with Lauren Swanson, a longtime friend of the Duggar family who is the oldest of eight children.
Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar are eager for all of their offspring to start churning out fundamentalist babies — who, like their parents, are supposed to be nearly-mindless clones of Jim Bob Duggar in terms of beliefs and lifestyle.
But they only want their children making babies … or having sex … or kissing … or “front-hugging” (hugging like a normal person) … or even spending one-on-one time with each other under the auspices of marriage.
That’s what courtship means to the Duggars. It’s not just a whimsical word for dating, it’s a path to marriage.
For the Duggars, it’s a means of ensuring that they can control every facet of their children’s lives until they’re married off to someone whom Jim Bob and Michelle hope will keep them “honest.”
But though that might sound like the Torment of Tantalus to most of us, Josiah appears to be loving every minute of it. Just look at these photos he shared from the family’s trip to New Zealand.
In addition to the cozy photos, of what we imagine was a long walk on a New Zealand beach, Josiah used the captions to shower Lauren with affection.
“I’m really enjoying the beauty in New Zealand.”
And then a heart-eyes emoji.
“Oh, and the landscape is pretty nice too I guess.”
That line is followed by a winky-face emoji.
Finally, Josiah tags the post “#mygirl #lauren.”
When most people envision long walks on the beach, they don’t really picture a chaperone along to make sure that they obey courtship rules that would have seemed shocking even during the Middle Ages.
The family may be keeping an extra close eye on Josiah, in part because apparently Josiah and Lauren have been caught breaking courtship rules.
Holding hands (the devil’s grabbers!). Hugging from the front (the devil’s embrace!). Even kissing (the devil’s … kiss? I don’t know).
Of course, what’s characterized as a hug could simply be Josiah helping Lauren up and down or keeping her from falling.
But for two touch-starved people living in a cult that denies them their basic humanity? Touching each other’s arms while facing each other is like, third base.
Of course, while we’re happy for Josiah at the idea that he might attain some freedom from his parents’ controlling clutches, we should acknowledge that some fans worry that this is all a front.
See, Josiah has been followed by gay rumors for a while, and they’ve naturally resurfaced following the news that he and Lauren are courting.
The gay rumors started when Josiah ended his last courtship — for the Duggars, that’s tantamount to divorce. (Which, for the Duggars, would also be shocking)
Right after the breakup (is it still called a breakup if they weren’t doing what anyone would consider “dating?” Right after the split), Josiah was shipped off to one of the IBLF’s “training programs.”
Plenty of Duggars go through training (we’ve spoken about the Duggar family church in detail and what ex-members have to say), but the Duggars are known for shipping their kids off to scary cult programs if they show the slightest hint of, you know, being a sexual being.
Some fans wonder if he was caught in what might be considered a gay situation.
Even if the breakup was Duggar-ordered, though, it may be that Josiah was doing something else.
If he were caught masturbating, his parents might have decided that their son wasn’t ready for marriage or courtship (too overstimulating, tempting him to sin, etc) and shipped him off for more cultish lessons.
Now, with 19 kids, plenty of fans figure that at least a couple of the Duggar children have to be gay or bi.
Maybe so (and we wouldn’t wish a Duggar childhood on anyone, least of all an LGBT child), but jumping to conclusions because one guy ended a courtship and sometimes wears pastels is a bit of a stretch.
Just because he’s gushing about Lauren doesn’t mean that he’s trying to cover up his true feelings.