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The 1 Big Way the Bates Family’s Courtships Are Different From The Duggar Family’s Courtships

The public was introduced to the Bates Family through the Duggar family. Now, the ultra-conservative Christian families have two different reality TV shows. Family followers largely think the Bateses might be a bit more progressive than the Duggars, and Josie Balka may have helped solidify that belief with a recent admission.

The Bates family, famed for their series Bringing Up Bates, are a lot like the Duggar family of Counting On. The two ultra-conservative Christian families belong to the same ministry, and both have reality TV shows. Still, family followers have dubbed the Bates family the more progressive of the two families. The reason they’ve been labeled more progressive might have something to do with their courtships. Two of the Bates kids have admitted to breaking one of the Duggar family’s biggest courtship rules. They kiss before marriage.

The Duggar family strictly prohibits kissing before marriage

The Duggar family strictly prohibits kissing before marriage. The family has long asserted that saving the first kiss for their wedding day makes the act extra-special. So far, 10 of the 19 Duggar siblings have gotten married. So far, none of them have admitted to kissing before marriage.

Kissing isn’t the only activity strictly prohibited by the Duggar family during the dating phase, though. Holding hands is reserved for engagement, and full-frontal hugs are considered verboten. The couples aren’t allowed to spend one-on-one time together until they are pronounced husband and wife, either.

Josie and Kelton Bates recently revealed that they kissed before marriage

Gil and Kelly Jo Bates also strongly encourage their kids to avoid kissing before marriage. The family, much like the Duggars, believes in courtships and don’t allow their children to have unchaperoned dates. Still, the rules at the Bates house are a bit laxer than at the Duggar compound. Josie Bates and her husband, Kelton Balka, recently admitted to sharing a kiss before they were officially husband and wife. Josie made the big reveal during an Instagram Live event.

The Bates family smiles at the camera in front of their Tennessee home
The Bates family | James Ambler / Barcroft USA / Getty Images

According to Fandom, Josie and Kelton connected as friends in 2016 and started dating the following year. In June 2018, they announced their engagement. Four months later, they married. They welcomed their first child, Willow, in July 2019. Kelton and Josie are currently expecting their second child. The baby, another girl, is expected to arrive in June.

Bates family followers believe several other Bates family members kissed before their wedding day

Josie and Kelton’s revelation may have shocked some family followers, but the young couple isn’t the only ones who didn’t save their first kiss. Zach Bates and his wife, Whitney Perkins, admitted to kissing before their wedding, too. The couple met in 2012 and married in December 2013. Zach had one failed courtship before meeting Whitney.


‘Counting On’: Do the Duggars Really Have Shorter Courtships Than the Bates Family?

Bates family followers strongly suspect more kissing might be going on behind the scenes, too. The Bates family currently has two courtships and one engagement in the works. Nathan Bates is presently courting a woman named Esther Keyes. Lawson Bates announced that he is dating Tiffany Espensen, an actor, in February 2021. Most recently, Katie Bates, who announced her courtship in 2020, got engaged.