If you’re a card-carrying member of Duggar Nation, you know that Joy-Anna just got engaged to Austin Forsyth after a whirlwind courtship.
And we mean whirlwind. Even by Duggar standards, Joy-Anna and Austin are moving this courtship thing along at a breakneck pace.
Those who watch Counting On online were introduced by the 19-year-old Joy-Anna to boyfriend “Austin” on the season finale last fall.
Incredibly, as more information about the Forsyth family comes to light, it appears that they may be even more strict than the Duggars.
His family runs the Fort Rock Family Camp in Arkansas, and has been acquainted with the Duggars and their church for many years.
(This appears to be a familiar pattern; As with Joseph Duggar courting Kendra Caldwell, her family attends the family’s church as well.)
“We are extremely happy to announce the courtship of our son, Austin,” parents Terry and Roxanne wrote on their Christian retreat’s page.
“He and Joy have honored the Lord and will be a great testimony for his goodness and provision for a spouse. Congratulations to Austin & Joy!”
After almost 15 years of friendship, it appears that Joy-Anna Duggar has already become a part of Austin’s family, or close to it.
A quick look at the retreat’s site shows Joy-Anna posing next to Austin, now believed to be 22, and his family in a “camp staff” photo.
Joy’s parents, Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar, are well aware of this, of course; They frequent the Forsyth’s family camp in St. Paul, Arkansas.
The Duggars last visited in October, speaking at the 5th annual fall marriage retreat (yes, Jim Bob and Michelle offer marriage advice).
“We’re so thankful for Austin,” Michelle gushed of her daughter’s new beau last fall. “He is a great guy and we’re excited about the future.”
Not only are the Forsyths’ members of the Duggars’ inner circle, they’re not new to the whole reality TV scene themselves.
It’s this fact that has some fans worried about Joy-Anna.
In 2009, when he was 15, he starred alongside his parents and sister Meagan on Season 1 of CMT’s World’s Strictest Parents.
No, we did not invent the existence of that show, as much as you might think so. It was actually a thing and they were on it.
The series, which was what it sounds like, united troubled teens with strict parents in hopes of helping them turn over a new leaf.
Whether it achieved that goal or not, it certainly gave viewers some insight into Austin’s family and their extremely rigid belief system.
The Forsyths place a heavy emphasis on modesty, homeschooling and staying “pure” until marriage, which likely sounds pretty familiar.
Not unlike the Duggars, that includes saving your first kiss for your wedding day (suffice it to say, premarital sex is out of the question).
In one particular scene, it was revealed to viewers that during a Sunday school lesson, the Forsyth’s guests were taught about dating.
Specifically, the dangers of dating, which “leads to divorce.”
To our knowledge, the Duggars have never used wording that strong.
However, we all know how seriously regimented they are, and how courtship has been called “dating with a purpose” or a pre-engagement.
In any event, it’s no wonder that we’ve heard talk of Joy-Anna’s courtship rules being the strictest ever enforced by the famous family.
Critics will likely talk about how unhealthy this all is. Maybe they’re right, or maybe it’s exactly what these two young people want and love.
All we can tell you is that they look happy as a pair of human beings can be, and that by all accounts that matter, it’s a match made in …
… somewhere in Northwest Arkansas, nestled among the Ozarks.
God’s Country in more ways than one. Even a little slice of heaven.
At least if you can describe a pair of repressed, sheltered, virginal 20-somethings running around in layer upon layer of denim as heaven.
If anyone can, it would be Joy-Anna and Austin, and we are so excited for them as long as they’re happy in taking this next big step.
Ditto Joseph and Kendra, whose romance was announced today.
We just hope that they’re doing it for the right reasons, and chart their own course in life, rather than living wholly in their families’ shadows.
Having core beliefs and values and sticking by them is good, but so is getting out there and trying new things. Just some food for thought.