by Dr Alan Keyes
But the notion that the father has, by nature, superior parental authority is rejected by John Locke in Chapter VI of his Second Treatise, a work known to have influenced the American Founders’ understanding that “all men are created equal”. This understanding, proclaimed in the Declaration of Independence, applies to all human beings, unless we accept the easily disproved notion that the use of the word “men” in the Declaration is a reference to gender rather than humanity. But this is obviously absurd, since it would not only strip women of all parental authority, it would strip them of any and all God endowed unalienable rights- a thought never seriously entertained at the time of the founding, or in any subsequent generation of Americans.
In the Second Treatise Locke finds fault with the use of the word “paternal” in reference to the human power to which children are naturally subject at birth: “…as this…seems so to place the power of parents over their children wholly in the father, as if the mother had no share in it; whereas, if we consult reason or revelation, we shall find she has an equal title. This may give one reason to ask whether this might not be more properly called ‘parental power,’ for whatever obligation nature and the right of generation lays on children, it must certainly bind them equally to both concurrent causes of it.”
Now, with reference to generation (i.e., the consequence of procreation) the word “obligation” refers, at its root, to bonds that inform and determine the characteristics that pass from one generation to the next. Given the scientific breakthroughs of the 20th century, we understand the nature of these bonds even more explicitly than ever before in human history. Rest of article