Recent gossip says that Jim Bob Duggar has found a match for his eldest daughter, Jana, in family friend Jonathan Hartono. The family is neither confirming nor denying, and the story is based entirely on a clip that Hartono posted on his Instagram, in which he bowls with Jim Bob.
Previously, it’s been made clear that the Duggar method of entering a relationship (for daughters, at least) starts with the would-be suitor approaching Jim Bob and asking permission to ask one of his daughters to enter a courtship, which is the equivalent of dating, but with additional rules, like no holding hands or kissing and only going on chaperoned dates.
The video below shows this has been the expectation for quite some time. Ben Seewald asked Jim Bob and Michelle’s permission to court Jessa, then actually asked Jessa to enter a courtship with her parents as an audience back in 2014.
More recently, audiences have been treated to the sight of Austin Forsyth going through the same process, with Jim Bob questioning him before giving permission. The clip shows the family patriarch teasing the young man, hinting that he’ll make him wait again, as Austin says Jim Bob had already done in the past, before finally promising to help him arrange the event.
With these images in mind, it’s no great wonder that many viewers took Hartono’s brief video, captioned to describe the interaction as a ‘one-on-one,’ as a hint that a new relationship will be another plot point in the upcoming season of Counting On.
It’s also not hard to scroll the social media accounts and find Jonathan spending time with the Duggar family as the characterization of him as a ‘family friend’ seems to be accurate enough.
We’ve definitely seen previous times when someone who showed up in photos as a ‘family friend’ was later introduced as a love interest. Jeremy Vuolo, for instance, was introduced on Jessa Seewald’s Youtube channel as a ‘family friend’ well before there was any news that Jinger Duggar was courting.
Then too, here’s Austin Forsyth, Joy’s fiance, showing up in photos with Duggar boys before the courtship was announced.
However, not every Duggar family friend becomes a spouse or love interest. Lots of photos bring together the Duggar family with the Bates family, for instance, as well as with other fundamentalist families in their circle.
There are only 19 Duggar kids, and they can’t date everyone who shows up in a photo; especially when the family opposes what they’ve called “serial dating.”
Is a one-on-one with Jim Bob meaningful? If it was done in his office or a quiet corner of his home, that would likely be a yes. Bowling? We can’t even be sure whether the description meant a one-on-one talk, game, or Bible study session.
Radar Online reported that, when contacted, Jonathan Hartono refused to offer any input.
However, some viewers doubt the connection between Jana Duggar and Jonathan Hartono, not because the evidence is flimsy, but for another reason.
One Duggar fan on the Keeping Up With Fundies blog asked, “I don’t want this to sound bad but, do you think the Duggars/Bates would even allow their kids to date someone that’s not white? (Ex: Jonathan Hartono)”
This viewer wasn’t alone as the question was reblogged and reiterated by others, and it has been asked across other social media platforms as well.
No specific reason has been presented for thinking that Jim Bob Duggar would refuse such a match, other than that fact that he is very conservative. The Duggar family is known for anti-gay and anti-transgender political activity, and Jessa Seewald did blame the holocaust on a belief in evolution, but there has never been any direct allegation of broad-strokes white supremacy from the family. In fact, the Duggars Without Pity blog discussed Jim Bob’s purported opposition to interracial relationships back in 2009 as one of the things often stated as ‘fact’ about the Duggar family that can’t be backed up with any specific evidence.
The closest connection is that the Love Joy Feminism blog uncovered a passage on a ministry website associated with the religious sect the Duggar family follows that glorifies slavery and suggests that instead of the Civil War, slaves and slave owners alike could have prayed more and had happier slave-owner relationships.
While that’s obviously disturbing, it’s from the religious leadership Jim Bob follows, not Jim Bob himself. If the Duggar patriarch had ever publicly stated a view on race, there’s no question it would be well-documented on the many blogs, message boards, and news sites that follow the family’s actions closely.
Perhaps viewers feel they can guess the family’s views on race by their views on gender and sexuality, or by their proud support of conservative politicians (some of whom have been much more open about views on race).
Still, while it may be a factor some viewers will incorporate into their own speculation about whether a Hartono-Duggar courtship is likely, it’s based entirely on their own impressions of Jim Bob Duggar and not on anything he has publicly said. The fact that the evidence for this relationship is flimsy at best, however, remains true.
[Featured Image by Duggar Family/Instagram]