If you’re a fan of the Duggar family, then you’re probably at least passingly familiar with Jim Bob and Michelle’s infamous courtship rules.
The family describes courtship as "dating with a purpose" — that purpose being to find a suitable mate with whom to make many babies.
Generally, young Duggars are successful in this goal.
Courtships that don’t result in marriage are very rare.
In fact, the Duggars have only gone public with the specifics of one — Josiah Duggar courted Marjorie Jackson in 2015 ,and the couple broke up for reasons that remain mysterious.
We know there are others — for example, Jana Duggar says she’s been courted by several men and rejected them all — but the details are always kept under wraps.
Now, we have word of another failed courtship, and this one might be the most scandalous to date, as it involves not just one famous fundie, but two.
Fans are convinced that before she married Jeremy Vuolo, Jinger Duggar was courted by Lawson Bates.
Lawson’s family stars in their own reality show called Bringing Up Bates.
The Bates are also a fundamentalist family of 19 who are obsessed with babies and breeding.
If it sounds like their show is basically a poor man’s version of Counting On, that’s because it is.
The Jinger-Lawson courtship has never been confirmed, but the two are roughly the same age, and given how close their families are (and how much Jim Bob loves arranging marriages), it stands to reason that someone would try to get them together at some point.
If that were the only basis for the speculation, we might be inclined to dismiss this as a particularly outlandish rumor.
But as some fans have pointed out, Lawson’s social media posts from the week of Jinger’s wedding seem to suggest he was processing some conflicting emotions.
Lawson was one of the 1,000 guests on hand for the ceremony, but he had nothing positive to say about the event.
Instead, his posts have the tone of someone pining for a lost love.
“As long as you’re comparing, you’ll never be content,” he tweeted the day after the wedding.
“If you saw me last night & I was a lil out of sorts, srry; It was quite a day????” he wrote later that same day.
There’s an anti-Duggar website called Free Jinger which was created in the days when Jinger was still the repressed family rebel who was eternally stuck under Jim Bob’s thumb.
Though it would have taken place several years ago, the alleged Jinger-Lawson affair remains a common topic of conversation there.
“Based on the photo and tweets from Lawson, I get the feeling something is very wrong there,” one person recently posted.
“Whether he and Jinger had a secret thing for each other, or he knows/heard something about Jeremy and didn’t want to hurt her, etc. My heart breaks for him for whatever it is.”
Indeed, it’s a sad situation if Lawson was really cast aside in favor of Jeremy.
But hey, it’s not often that Duggar women get to decide anything for themselves — we don’ blame Jinger for following her heart.