In Becoming Free Indeed and in the press tour surrounding its release, Jinger Duggar Vuolo has opened up about a lot of topics.
Some are current and sensational. The cultish beliefs of her extended family and the crimes of her brother. Others touch upon how she first “dated” her husband, if we can even call a courtship that.
Jim Bob acted as gatekeeper to his children. Jinger was no exception.
In fact, before he allowed Jeremy to side-hug Jinger under a chaperone’s watchful eye, he turned away 26 would-be suitors.
For many years, the Duggars worked tirelessly to present a sanitized facade of their extreme beliefs to the world. They wanted to be seen as quirky but somehow noble.
One of the aspects of their cult’s beliefs that they did share was their unusual approach to dating. That is, they view their children as property, and forbid dating entirely.
Instead of this “sinful” practice of people getting to know one another, they had a supervised practice called “courtship.”
Years ago, Jim Bob explained why he controlled his children’s personal lives with an iron fist.
“Courtship is really waiting for the one God has for you and praying through the whole process,” he insisted.
Jim Bob asserted that “It’s really examining the person and considering, ‘Would this be the guy I want to be the father of my kids?”
Infamously, the courtship rules prohibit basic things — no hand-holding until a formal engagement, no kissing or front-hugging until marriage.
Also, every date includes chaperones. Yes, even for the adults still living under Jim Bob’s control.
This tactic works to prevent Duggars from practicing their human rights towards sexual expression. It also motivates them to want to get married as quickly as possible, thus cementing them into the Duggar lifestyle.
Additionally, any prospective courtship required Jim Bob’s approval. To begin to courtship — and for marriage. That is nothing short of disgusting.
And this is where we pick up with what Jinger recalled in her memoir, Becoming Free Indeed.
Jinger details that her father rejected 26 potential suitors who wanted to court her.
“I hadn’t shared more than a passing hello with any of them,” Jinger noted.
“I’m guessing a few confused me with one of my sisters,” she admitted.
“Several had seen the show and decided they wanted to court a Duggar girl,” Jinger shared. “A similar number of guys were interested in each of my sisters”
For years, people joked about a rumored 50 page questionnaire that Jim Bob required potential suitors to complete.
But Ben Seewald, husband of Jessa Duggar, has confirmed its existence.
In fact, even though Jim Bob had already more or less given his seal of approval, he still had to fill out page after page for his stance on Christian theology.
“‘The major question, where I spent most of my time was ”tell me about how you became a Christian, how you came to the Lord,” Ben recalled.
Jeremy Vuolo, who of course is now Jinger’s husband, had to run the same gauntlet.
“The questionnaire asks some pretty intensely personal questions. … You have to know who you are,” he stated.
Apparently, Jim Bob placed extra scrutiny on Jeremy — because Jessa and Ben had essentially matched him with Jinger.
In her book, Jinger shared that their courtship only began “after five months of almost weekly conversations with my dad.”
Even so, Jeremy shared that “there was an expectation of marriage” from their first conversation. Cults!