Josiah Duggar and Lauren Swanson just announced their courtship, but some fans believe that the young couple may already be engaged. The lovebirds are also being accused of potentially breaking a courtship rule.
On Tuesday, Josiah Duggar took to Instagram to share a few romantic snapshots of the new lady in his life. The 21-year-old Counting On star’s pictures were uploaded just hours after he announced that he was courting 18-year-old Lauren Swanson, a longtime family friend. Josiah and Lauren’s relationship is already serious enough that she was invited to join the Duggar family for their recent appearances at Christian family conferences in Australia and New Zealand. While visiting the latter, the couple got to spend some of their free time on the beach.
“I’m really enjoying the beauty in New Zealand,” Josiah captioned a slideshow of three photos that were taken during the couple’s stroll in the sand. “Oh, and the landscape is pretty nice too I guess. #mygirl #lauren.”
Josiah Duggar’s first slideshow snapshot is a selfie that he and Lauren Swanson had to press up against each other to take. The second photo is a solo shot of Lauren laughing, and the third shows Josiah and Lauren walking barefoot near the waves.
A few of Josiah Duggar’s eagle-eyed followers noticed that Lauren Swanson appears to be rocking a ring on her left hand in the third slideshow photo. The same ring can also be seen in a picture on the Duggar family’s website. It’s more visible in that image, and it’s clearly on her ring finger.
“I spy a ring!” wrote one Duggar fan in response to Josiah’s post.
A beach would be a picturesque location to pop the question, but some fans aren’t so sure that Josiah and Lauren are already engaged. As reported by the Daily Mail, they believe that there’s a different explanation for the bling on Lauren’s left hand.
“Likely a purity ring,” wrote one commenter.
In the book Growing Up Duggar, the older Duggar girls explain that purity rings are meant to act as a reminder that God wants young women to remain “physically pure” for their future husbands. Since the highly influential Duggars are on the purity ring bandwagon, there’s a good chance that the other young women in their social circles — like Lauren Swanson — have embraced the trend, too.
Another possibility is that Lauren is wearing a promise ring in the photos. As reported by Us Weekly, Joseph Duggar gave Kendra Caldwell a promise ring when he asked her to enter into a courtship with him. He flipped the script on the concept of a girl’s ring being tied to sexual purity by saying that it signified his promise to Kendra that he was saving himself for her.
While there’s a high likelihood that Lauren Swanson’s jewelry is a promise ring or purity ring, Radar Online possibly helped fuel the engagement rumors by pointing out how physically close she and Josiah Duggar are in their beach selfie.
“Is he already breaking his family’s strict courtship rules by touching the teen?” the outlet asked.
Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar encourage their kids to follow a strict set of relationship guidelines when they become romantically involved with a member of the opposite sex, but these rules are slightly relaxed when couples get engaged. As reported by the Hollywood Gossip, Joseph Duggar and Kendra Caldwell were only allowed to side-hug for three seconds during their courtship. Josiah Duggar appears to have his arm around Lauren Swanson in their beach selfie, so it’s possible that they had to side-hug for a lengthier period of time to take the shot.
The Duggars’ trip to Australia and New Zealand began on January 13, and the family recently took to Instagram to reveal that they are still in New Zealand. The fact that Josiah and Lauren were allowed to go on such a lengthy trip together may also be a sign that their relationship is moving really fast. Counting On returns to TLC on February 26, so perhaps the couple’s engagement announcement will coincide with the show’s season premiere.