The pebble in Gary’s shoe

We can know the truth about abortion and when human life begins . . . to have value

Kim Ketola

Kim Ketola

Tulsa International Airport was quiet this morning as I made my way inside. I headed for a somewhat remote corner to a cart rental unit. The guard behind the Event Information counter looked happy to see some traffic.

I wasn’t in a hurry so we chatted a bit and I mentioned I had been in town to study at Oklahoma Wesleyan University–learning to defend the pro-life viewpoint. “You know,” I said, “Fighting the good fight. Do you have a position on this one?”

He smiled and I noticed we’re about the same age. His face said he’d heard it all. He ducked his chin and said, “I know it’s wrong at some point . . . ”

I said, “May I ask, are you a man of faith?” He nodded and smiled again.

So I said, “I had a dream last night and everything we’ve been studying came together in this dream. May I share it with you?”


“Do you remember when Senator Obama was running for the presidency for the first time, he had an interview with Pastor Rick Warren?”

“I think so,” he said, “Remind me.”

“There was a moment when Rick Warren said something like this, ‘You have a background as a civil rights lawyer. Can you tell us when the unborn gain their human rights?’ Obama was very charming in his answer, ‘That’s above my pay grade.'”

“Yes! I remember that.” I suddenly noticed my new friend was wearing a badge that looked to be more than private security so I’m sure he esteemed the chain of command response.

I reminded him that Sen. Obama then went on to say something like this, “That’s a question for the philosophers and theologians. But I support a woman’s right to choose. We must trust women to make these difficult decisions with their families and their doctors.’ So I asked my new friend, “It seems that Mr. Obama was saying was saying, ‘I don’t know.’ Do you think so?”

“Seems like it.”

“But we know from any medical textbook that when sperm and egg unite, the resulting zygote is a new human being. So he must have been saying that we don’t know when human life begins to have value. But we can also answer philosophy from science too. The law of biogenesis says like breeds like. So if two horses get together, they produce . . .”

“A horse!” my friend said. He looked relieved to get it right!

“And two frogs produce a . . . ”


“Right again–we may say it’s a tadpole but it doesn’t become more of a frog later on. It’s still the same frog it always was. It seems to me if all humans have equal rights we should have them equally throughout our lives.”

He closed his eyes. Since he said nothing when he opened them, I went on.

“You said you’re a man of faith. You know we are made in God’s image which gives us value from the very start.”


“So it isn’t even the case that we can’t know when life begins to have value. Philosophy, science and theology agree: if we have value now, we have had it all along by the nature of who and what we are.”

He closed his eyes again. Then he said, “I need to think about this.”

I said, “See if this helps. Say you’re driving on a rainy night and you see a large object in the middle of the road. It could be a body, but you can’t see a face or feet or hands. You might say we would have a moral obligation to stop and see if someone was in trouble. But. Maybe you truly aren’t able to stop because you’re on the way to the hospital for an emergency. You just don’t know what it is–and you can’t know because you can’t stop. But. Doesn’t that mean that you are obliged at the very least to avoid hitting it and perhaps killing an innocent human being?”

Eyes closed again. “You may be right,” and after a pause, “What’s your name?”

“Sorry! I’m Kim.”

He shook my extended hand, “Gary.”

“It might have just been a dream, Gary. Maybe I’m wrong. Can you think of something I missed or something that I just plain got wrong?”

“No–not right off the bat.”

He wanted to know what I do for a living so I told him about my book, and the radio show and the speaking–and then I told him about how I learned to value the unborn the hard way–by devaluing a child through abortion myself. He looked like he understood that somehow, so we agreed about what a good God we serve who has mercy on the broken hearted when we repent.

“Well, keep thinking–I’m coming back next year for the rest of the course.”

“I hope I see you then!”

“Bye, Gary–God bless you!”

As I walked away, I couldn’t help but think that I’ve been speaking and writing about this topic since 2003, and I have never been so bold to engage so directly on this issue. I’m beyond grateful to our professors in the Applied Bioethics Certificate program. Scott Klusendorf painstakingly taught us the science, philosophy and theology of Life. Then he demonstrated that diplomacy is better than D-day and that if I put a pebble in someone’s shoe, maybe they’ll want to think about it again. Marc Newman pushed me to be clear in laying out my case, giving me a brand new confidence to engage a stranger at the airport. I don’t know if Gary will change his mind. But I truly feel I made a friend in that exchange and that’s worth gold. Whether or not he changes his mind is not up to me. I, for one, am relieved that there is no job description for Assistant Holy Spirit.

I just hope that pebble keeps him thinking until he sees the truth.

Join us on Cradle My Heart Radio as we discuss the news of the week. We’re open for your calls or you may leave a comment below.

You’re invited to call in during the show to ask a question or make a comment on the air during our open phones from 9:30-10 pm ET Sundays on our Faith Radio affilitates. The toll free number to call is 800-811-3003. If you would prefer to ask a question by email write to me at before air time. Please let me know if you prefer to remain anonymous or receive an answer off-the-air.

For a list of radio stations or to tune in to Cradle My Heart live streaming on the Internet, go here. Smart phone users can listen on tunein linked here. The show is podcast on iTunes and archived here.

Join us for Cradle My Heart Radio with Kim Ketola Live on Sundays 9-10 pm ET, and Wednesdays at 8 pm ET on NewLife FM.

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