History shows that cultures inevitably clash, but why are radical Muslims so angry at the United States? How will this world ever find peace?
Everyone has a worldview based upon his or her basic beliefs regarding religion, how the world came into being, what happens when we die, and how to determine right from wrong. Our perspectives on these issues, which are influenced by our family, friends, religion, education and media, determine our values. Because of the diversity of people’s beliefs, the ensuing clash of ideas can lead to culture wars.
In the United States some have suggested that a culture war between Americans began in the 1960s as attitudes of distrust of authority and the desire for sexual freedom gained wide acceptance within the younger generation. Others believe the clash over values in the U.S. began in the 1920s—commonly referred to as the Roaring Twenties—because of the push to liberalize previous standards of conduct.
More recently, much has been made of so-called red states, in which a majority vote Republican (representing traditional values) in U.S. elections, versus blue states, in which a majority vote Democratic (representing more liberal/progressive values). Today differences in values are found in the political parties of just about every democratic country.
In Europe violence and controversy have accompanied clashes over the Muslim law of sharia, as Muslim immigrants demand that their laws take precedence over those of the nation in which they live. And recent events in Ukraine have highlighted a divide between pro-Western citizens and those whose loyalties lie with Russia.
When did culture clashes begin?
Given the intense emotions that are involved as people with differing values strive to promote their ideas (often at the expense of the minority), a logical question to ask is, When did these clashes begin?
The answer is found in the beginning of human civilization. After creating Adam and Eve, God placed the first humans in the Garden of Eden and told them not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 2:15-17). This tree represented humans making their own choices on how to live apart from God’s instructions.
In spite of their limited experience and the advice from their Creator to the contrary, they chose to believe a serpent, called Satan (Revelation 12:9), who told them that God was lying to them. Satan thus influenced the first humans to choose a different lifestyle than the one God encouraged them to choose for their own good. For more on the symbolism of this tragic clash of values and its significance for us today, see “Adam and Eve and the Two Trees” and “The Tree of Life.”
The clash of values between God and the world influenced by Satan has been ongoing ever since (Revelation 12:9). Today, of course, the clashes are much larger than simply the views within a family or a single nation. Flipping through just a few pages of history illustrates some of the battles and hard feelings between cultures.
In the first century, during which Jesus established His Church, there was a clash between Jews and gentiles. During the time of the crusades, the culture war was a literal war as Christians fought Muslims for control of the Holy Land. The Christians thought of themselves as liberators, while the Muslims considered the Christians to be ungodly invaders.
The Jew-Arab rivalry
The Bible shows that the Jews and Arabs are related through a common ancestor: a man called Abram, who was later renamed Abraham. The Bible focuses on this patriarch’s first two sons: one named Ishmael, who was born to his wife’s maidservant, Hagar; and one named Isaac who was born to his wife, Sarai (later called Sarah). Ishmael became the father of many of the Arab peoples, and Isaac was the grandfather of Judah, the ancestor from whom the Jews get their name.
Abraham loved both of his sons, but God had previously determined that the great promises of a Savior for mankind and of national greatness for Abraham’s descendants would primarily be fulfilled through the late-life child He miraculously gave Abraham and Sarah (Genesis 12:1-3; 17:15-19). The blessing of the Messiah would come through Isaac’s descendants, as would the blessing of Sarah’s being a mother of “nations” (Genesis 17:16).
Even though Ishmael also became the father of “nations” (Genesis 25:16), Isaac was the child promised by God who would inherit God’s promises to Abraham (Galatians 4:22-28). For additional information, see “Blessings of Abraham: How They Came to the United States” and the articles in the section “12 Tribes of Israel.”
As might be expected in a household with one husband and two mothers with children (which went against God’s instruction that marriage be a union of one man and one woman, Genesis 2:24), friction soon surfaced between Hagar and Sarah. As a result, Hagar and her son, Ishmael, were sent away from Abraham and Sarah (Genesis 21).
The family feud between Ishmael and Isaac continues to this day in the hard feelings between the Arabs and Jews. As descendants of Abraham, each claims the land of Canaan given to Abraham as “an everlasting possession” (Genesis 17:7-8).
Why militant Muslims hate the U.S.
The Muslim religion is similar to mainstream Christianity and Judaism in that it professes to believe in one God and in the prophets of the Bible. A major difference is that Muhammad, the founder of Islam, is considered by Muslims to be the last and greatest prophet of God—a view not shared by Christians and Jews.
Because of their mutual respect for the Bible, one would think these three religions would be able to peacefully coexist. But unfortunately, this has not proven to be the case.
All three religions have had fanatical adherents who have advocated and condoned mistreatment of those who are different from themselves. In the Muslim world, for example, in the 18th century a man named Muhammad ibn-Abdul Wahhab founded a Sunni Muslim sect called Wahhabis. This fundamentalist sect has promoted a violent, fanatical and extreme branch of Islam.
Wahhabism is the leading religion of Saudi Arabia and has followers in many nearby nations. The terrorists responsible for the destruction of the World Trade Center towers in New York on Sept. 11, 2001, and most other Muslim terrorists, have been connected with this branch of Islam.
Given what the Bible teaches, we know in advance who the winners of today’s culture wars will be. Those who choose and live God’s way of life will be the winners. And God will invite everyone to be a winner.Of course, not all Muslims agree with the violence perpetrated by their fellow Muslims on nonbelievers. A Pew Research Global Attitudes Project found in a survey of Muslims in 11 countries and territories that 67 percent of respondents were “somewhat or very concerned about Islamic extremism.” Even so, there are several underlying reasons why many Muslims have a disrespect for the United States.
Because the United States supports the State of Israel, which has a long history of conflict with the Palestinians, many Muslims hate or at least distrust the U.S. The culture of the United States, which pervasively enters Muslim societies via television, movies and pornography, is another reason many hate America.
Western television shows and movies routinely show scantily clad actors and advocate immorality. These influences clearly undermine the family unit and biblical values. While many Americans do not agree with the values espoused by the entertainment industry, people living in countries where news and opinions are tightly controlled by their governments often do not realize this. With such limited information, it often seems that all people in the U.S. live the lives portrayed in Hollywood movies and television.
Still another reason many hate the U.S. is America’s wealth and prosperity. Many are envious of the blessings that have been granted to Abraham’s descendants through his son Isaac and passed along through Isaac’s grandson Joseph (Genesis 49:22-26). For additional information on how to trace America’s national identity, see the article “12 Tribes of Israel Today.”
The winners of the culture wars
The clash of cultures that began in the Garden of Eden is destined to come to an end with the return of Jesus Christ and the establishment of the Kingdom of God on earth. When Christ returns to earth, the Bible teaches that He will not be warmly welcomed by governmental leaders and invited to take control of their countries. Instead, “all the nations” will gather to “battle against Jerusalem,” and “the LORD will go forth and fight against those nations” (Zechariah 14:2-3).
The battle, of course, will be a lopsided victory for Jesus Christ, who is pictured in a glorified state coming from heaven on a white horse to judge and make war (Revelation 19:11-12). The kingdoms of this world will then become “the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!” (Revelation 11:15).
When Christ assumes His position as “Lord of lords and King of kings” (Revelation 17:14), He will not create a society with peaceful accommodations of everyone’s view. Instead, the Kingdom Christ will oversee will be marked by widespread acceptance of a way of life—God’s way of life—that will bring happiness, peace and prosperity to all.
Christ will not remove free will from people, but it is likely that most people will voluntarily choose to accept God’s way of life. Several factors—including the binding of Satan so he can’t continue deceiving people (Revelation 20:1-3), the teaching of true spiritual knowledge (Isaiah 11:9), and the tangible results that come to peoples and nations who either obey or disobey God (Zechariah 14:16-19)—will help people see that choosing God’s way is truly the best choice.
Through these factors and the appointment of righteous leaders (Revelation 5:10), the needs and concerns of all peoples will be kindly and appropriately addressed. This approach mirrors what Jesus said during His human ministry: “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). The peaceful “rest” that we humans desire will finally be achieved during a 1,000-year period of time following Christ’s return.
Given what the Bible teaches, we know in advance who the winners of today’s culture wars will be. Those who choose and live God’s way of life will be the winners. And God will invite everyone to be a winner.
As for the future described in this article, don’t take our word for it. Read the Scriptures and prove it for yourself! To learn more about the Kingdom Jesus will establish when He returns, see the articles in the section “Kingdom of God.” For information on what you need to do to prepare for Christ’s return, see the articles in the section “Change.” The articles found on this website are all biblically based.