On this week's 19 Kids And Counting finale: After three months of courting Jill, Derick Dillard proposed marriage to Jim Bob Duggar. It was a moment Jim Bob had been waiting for all his life, the two prayed rapturously, and then Derick set up a lunch date with Jill and two of her sisters to see how she felt about the whole thing.
Jill had just gotten back from a book tour, publicizing a book she and her sisters wrote about relationships, despite the fact that presumably their actual relationship experience is pretty limited. On the one hand hey, Jill, good work getting a book published! A life long goal for many of us who write as a profession.
On the other hand, has Jill been to college? And I'm not talking about some online "CollegePlus" foolishness, I mean an immersive independent education. Has she lived outside her home, outside of her role as daughter, for any length of time? Is there any illusion that she and her younger sisters came to these conclusions about how to conduct relationships via actual experience? Can you call someone a role model who is stripped of all agency? Did Saint Augustine not say, "There are no passive virtues"?
Clearly they're puppeting the party line of their close knit church community. Is there any other advice they can actually give young women other than "Be born into a super strict church that reinforces cultural gender roles as the most fundamental and important aspect of your life here on earth and have parents with the financial stability to extend that bubble over your entire family for your entire life"?
I'm preaching to the converted here. I don't get any points for pointing out to Morning After readers that fundamental Christians like the Quiverfulls are essentially living in a 365-day-a-year Renaissance Faire but with the timeline skewing closer to "1890s, if Crocs existed."
And bless their hearts, Jill and Derick seem to be absolutely giddy about each other, as any young couple is giddy at the three month mark. Jill has not only found herself a partner, she's secured a great arc for next season. On top of book revenue, she's making more money than I have made in my life, which should theoretically give her more autonomy.
Still, even for her Proposal lunch date, she had to have chaperones?
Everyone at this table knows a proposal is coming. He all but spilled the beans when he called her during book tour, he's gotten the green light from Jim Bob, but there they are, rigidly eating guac while trying not to think about sex. And then after the actual proposal, they met in a fervent SIDE HUG? Like, you don't even get to front hug before the wedding day? Aren't you basically guaranteeing your prime motivation for getting married right now is the unlimited access to front, back, and upside-down hugs?
Leveraging young people's hormones into early marriages and fast-following pregnancies has always been a great scheme for population control. But the reason it's been abandoned by the mainstream is because nine out of ten times it's a shortcut to intellectual and literal poverty. I wish the future Jill Dillard nothing but happiness with Derick, who certainly seems like the most earnest and endearing of sweethearts, but honestly the book on relationship advice I'm most interested in reading is the one she's going to write in another 15 years.