Live, Independent, Internet Radio and News Media

We Now Have a Letters to the Editor Section!  Click Here.

Back to Articles

The Sixth Commandment in Natural Law

Children's Rights and Valentines Day

Pastor Jonathan Lange
February 9, 2024

Children have a natural right to their own father and mother. After all, every child is literally born out of his or her mother. And “natural” comes from the Latin root, “natus,” meaning born. Fathers are naturally included because nobody has ever been born without one. 

A natural right is something that you are born with. It is not given or conferred by anyone but belongs to you by virtue of who you are. Governments cannot create natural rights. They can only recognize and secure them. Moreover, these rights do not exist in greater or lesser degrees. “All men are created equal,” as the Declaration of Independence knows. 

None of this is culturally dependent. People around the globe and through the millennia have known that “to secure these rights, governments are instituted.” Justice demands that the strong protect the weak. Adult parents have a duty to protect the rights of their tiniest child. And since whatever you must do by nature is your right to do, justice demands that these rights be secured. 

Just governments secure the rights of children by enacting countless laws about marriage, divorce, statutory rape, and sexual assault, as well as laws about parental rights, child support, child neglect, and anything involving the distinction between adults and minors. All just societal laws support a child’s parents in the performance of their duties and hold them accountable when they refuse to do them. 

Legislators who see clearly their obligation to protect children will also make laws that prohibit the creation of orphans through sperm and egg donation, surrogacy, and other Assisted Reproductive Technologies. While adoption can be a wonderful blessing to children who have already lost their parents, no one should profit by deliberately creating and trafficking in orphans. 

The primary responsibility for protecting children, however, belongs to their parents. Only those who can choose to procreate a child can also choose to stay together with their child. Governments can, and should, encourage them to stay together and penalize a parent who abandons the household through desertion or adultery. But the parents are ultimately responsible. 

Present-day society is not very friendly to these facts. That certainly makes it more difficult to remain faithful in times of trial. Surrounded, as we are, by the normalization of adultery through literature, song, and film, there are precious few good role models to follow. But no matter how adultery might be normalized, it will never be normal. 

For proof of this, take a walk down the greeting card aisle this week. Take a good look at the St. Valentine’s Day cards you see there. Even corporate store chains that sneer at Ozzie and Harriet, carry cards that testify to the basic elements of marriage. 

With slogans like, “Love is eternal,” and “I will love you always” they testify to the permanence of marriage. None says, “I will love you for a while before I leave.” The simple declarations, “Be my Valentine,” and “I love you,” remind us that marriage is faithful and exclusive to only one person. One card that I saw showed two puzzle pieces fitting together—testifying to the complementarity of marriage. 

Indeed, every instinctive, romantic notion that couples feel hinges on complementarity, exclusivity, and permanence. These are exactly the same things that children long to see in their parents. Their rights are not opposed to parental desires but naturally coincide. The natural rights of children and the natural law against adultery are not externally imposed by governments or religion. 

That’s why it is so puzzling that the commandment, “Thou shalt not commit adultery” is singled out for exclusion from public law. Loud and authoritative-sounding people claim that laws about marriage and the care of children conceived constitute a “state establishment of religion.” 

This is not true. Nevertheless, we are often admonished to keep silent about these issues. Church-going politicians often cower in fear and fail to secure the rights of children. That is an injustice that has no parallel in the rest of the Ten Commandments. 

Nobody pretends that laws against larceny and theft unconstitutionally establish the Seventh Commandment. Nor do laws against murder (Fifth Commandment) or perjury (Eighth Commandment) threaten to make America a theocracy. So why have we allowed selective amnesia to make us forget the rights of children? 

A large part of the answer to that question is the sexual revolution. For decades, we have been told that adultery laws—and these alone—are religious and forbidden by the Constitution. For three-score years we have imposed this irrational experiment on generations of children. Rather than delivering the promised utopia, it has spread a misery that no child should have to endure. 

It is high time that we stopped pretending. By focusing on the natural rights of children, we can find our voice. Advocating for them will benefit their parents as well.

Jonathan Lange is the pastor of two churches in southwest Wyoming and is the owner of the Only Human Substack.