"Congrats, seniors, this will be a heck of a graduation." That's how a New York University press release breathlessly announced the commencement snaring of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor. Other schools swoon over presidents: Barack Obama will speak at Barnard College (Columbia University) and Bill Clinton at little Columbia College in South Carolina.
Many universities think that TV names make a heck of a graduation, so Tom Brokaw, Katie Couric, and Brian Williams are orating at prestigious schools, and CNN host/Time editor-at-large Fareed Zakaria is playing a Harvard and Duke doubleheader. Happily, some Christian colleges are counter-cultural: Biola students will hear artist (and WORLD's 2005 Daniel of the Year) Makoto Fujimura, and Covenant College students will hear pastor Tullian Tchividjian (See WORLD, July 16, 2011).
Other Christian schools also show understanding that the primary purpose of their commencements is to glorify God who knit together each graduate, not to worship human idols. But commencement season has gotten me thinking about what the goal for all Christian speakers should be: Instead of plotting how to become more famous and sell more books, we should always aim to put the spotlight on Christ.
Spotlighting Christ means more than a lack of selfishness, because it also means not making our chief end the winning of support on a favorite issue. For example, let's say you can show that same-sex marriage is not good for children and even for the partners themselves. That's fine, but if you just use social science data to make your point, and leave out God because you don't want to upset anyone in your audience, you are worshipping created things rather than the Creator.
Natural law reasoning by itself is also useful but not sufficient for Christians, because our primary goal is not to glorify reason but to glorify God who created reason. Educated by pulp fiction and TV shows, we tend to think that a mystery is something solvable through reason, but in Paul's epistles (see Ephesians 3:3-6) only revelation can solve a mystery. That's certainly true about the mystery of marriage: If we don't recognize Christ's preeminence in molding a husband and wife over decades, our prattling about joyful lifetime marriage sounds like a fairy tale.