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Jessa Duggar, the third daughter of Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar, is officially courting Ben Seewald. It's a big deal for the entire Duggar family, whom Jim Bob says is involved in the courtship.
"We are so excited for Ben and Jessa," Jim Bob told People magazine. "They are enjoying getting to know each other and are recommending sermons to one another. He's the first one she has shown interest in that has a spiritual focus and legitimate calling about ministry work."
The two met in church and asked their parents' permission to begin chatting via text and phone. Jim Bob and Michelle were kept informed of the conversations and have tried to help steer their daughter in the right direction when it comes to relationships.
"Jessa has a very steady personality," Michelle explained. "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 of back and forth, ping, ping, ping."
One key element of a Duggar courtship is chastity. Josh Duggar, Jessa's older brother, saved his first kiss for the wedding ceremony. The couple may hold hands, but that is the extent of the physical nature of the relationship. Yet according to Michelle, the two have decided not even to hold hands. The two are, however, allowed to have a 30-second hug or side-hug, which was approved by Jim Bob once the courtship began.
"They want to wait on the physical relationship until later," Michelle said. "If there is an engagement that comes about, they will work together on their goals and standards for that."
Jessa recently finished co-authoring a book, "Growing Up Duggar," with sisters Jana, Jill and Jinger. The four worked together to offer an inside look at what growing up in their family meant for their relationships, decisions about whom to date, and of course, marriage.
The courtship will be featured on this season of "19 Kids & Counting," which will likely add a new layer of pressure for the couple. Josh, the oldest Duggar, had his courtship, engagement, wedding, and the birth of his three children all filmed for the popular series on TLC.
"We don't have a timeframe at all," Jim Bob told Radar Online. "Ben fits with our family and he will make a great husband for Jessa."