Any true '19 Kids and Counting' fan likes to keep up with all 19 of the TLC Duggar kids. With a wide age range among the group, some of the Duggars are already starting families of their own. As we know, Jim Bob and Michelle's eldest son Josh and wife Anna have three children. Instead of sticking to the "J" theme like their parents, they are using the letter "M" for their children. Could it be that they are honoring "Michelle," since Jim Bob got to share the "J" with 19 kids? According to a People report Monday, September 16, Jim Bob and Michelle's third born is the latest to enter the courtship world, and just might be well on her way to being the next one married off.
Jessa, 20 of Tonitown, Ark has entered a courtship with Ben Seewald, 18, who lives nearby in Hot Springs, Ark.
"We are so excited for Ben and Jessa," Jim Bob, 48, tells PEOPLE. "They are enjoying getting to know each other and are recommending sermons to one another."
It is important to note that the Duggars use the word "courting" instead of "dating," because the two terms carry different meanings. The devout Christian family follows biblical principles whenever they pursue a relationship. The parents remain involved in their children's relationships, and give their approval for Godly courtships.
"Courting 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. With dating, a couple will often pair off alone and that sometimes leads to a more physical relationship," said Jim Bob.
Ben has clearly impressed Jessa's parents, as it apparently hasn't been so easy for other guys to receive the approval to court her. The couple has a spiritual connection that began from meeting in church.
"He's the first one she has shown interest in that has a spiritual focus and legitimate calling about ministry work," he says. "When a guy is pursing your daughter, you want to check him out and see if there are any red flags and with Ben, there hasn't been. He is very sharp. It appears like a match made in heaven."
Jim Bob was asked if the two could talk over text and on the phone. The Duggars agreed, and were kept in the loop of the conversations, which has mainly consisted of theology and scripture discussion.
It sounds as though mom Michelle is also enjoying her daughter's new friend these days.
"Jessa has a very steady personality," says Michelle. "It has been interesting to watch their interactions because for her personality type, they share very similar beliefs. It has been fun to watch them and both of our phones are going off back and forth, ping, ping, ping."
"Courtship is not just about having fun," she continues. "You are really considering if this person could be your life partner – you pray about it and see what happens."
Duggar courtship at this point also seems to mean saving your first kiss for marriage. Josh and Anna didn't kiss until their wedding day, and Jessa plans to follow suit.
"Dad allowed them to do a side hug when they were officially courting," Michelle, 47, explains. "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."
"They want to wait on the physical relationship until later," she adds. "If there is an engagement that comes about, they will work together on their goals and standards for that."
As for the rest of the family, they are also ecstatic about the new courtship taking place.
Jessa is one of the four Duggar girls that penned the book 'Growing up Duggar,' which will be released next year. She collaborated with sisters Jill, Jana, and Jinger to discuss relationships, boys, and the thought process behind who and when to marry.
As one might have guessed, Jessa and Ben's relationship will be featured on the TLC's '19 Kids and Counting,' which has made its return on Tuesday nights at 9 p.m.
Do you think Ben is the one for Jessa?