Commonality - Western culture is defined as a Christian culture. Middle Eastern culture is defined as a Muslim culture. This is in the least true if we take the majority.
Differentiation - The Middle Eastern culture is seen as an accurate portrayal of the Islamic religion. The government is a theocracy. A political revolution in the Middle East is generally a revolution towards Islamic fundamentalism, not away from it.
Western culture has turned into a humanistic, materialistic, religiously cynical culture that in very few ways portrays Christianity. The government has turned into agnosticism at best, though each president declares faith in God, there is a strong force in the government whose sole purpose is to make sure faith and government do not mix in any impactful way. A revolution in western society is generally a political revolution away from Christianity, not towards it (there are exceptions, less and less lately).
At one time in history Christendom (western culture) was much like the Middle East, but it has moved away from that correlation. The West is in a battle to detach itself from Christianity and has been for some time. Christianity has won some battles, lost others in the fight for the culture but I must be honest, as of now, we are losing the cultural battle. But the distinction I wish to point attention to is not the battle over Western Culture, but the disconnect between Mid-Eastern and Western religious correlations.
Muslims live in a theocratic atmosphere. Religion is a great part of tradition, structure, and the legal system. They look at America through TV, radio, movies and news broadcasts and ask, is that Christianity?
A book I read from a Missionary compiled responses from Muslims and solidified them into one imaginary person, Ahmad, and this is what he had to say.
“When you try to convert me, I feel like you want to impose upon me your values. Back home, many Muslims who do not understand you like I do think that your strategy is, under the guise of freedom, to penetrate and destroy our culture, and especially our youth, with immorality and sex through your movies. Our values are very precious to us. We do not want to lose them as a result of globalization. Our values are primarily honor, loyalty, courage, politeness, passion for justice, generosity, hospitality, and fear of God.”
They see Christian values as one and the same as cultural values. And they do not look upon our cultural values very highly. I do not blame them. In fact, it could be argued that these tactics, to ‘penetrate and destroy our culture...with immorality and sex through...movies’ is part of an agenda (radical feminist and communistic, among others) to penetrate and destroy Our (Christian) culture. So I feel what the Muslim fears. And I agree with them.
True Christian values do not vary much from Islam’s, though it is hard felt through American culture; values like loyalty, politeness, generosity, hospitality and fear of God. But also compassion, grace, mercy, and love of God and others.
Galatians says the Fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. These are our core values.
American cultural values have become more in line with relativism, materialism, independence, pleasure, and self-actualization. These are not Christian values. True, some of these things are not bad in and of themselves, but when they are emphasized as core, the outcome is less than desirable.
In conclusion, to understand, we in the West must understand our impact upon Mid-Eastern culture (whether that is positive or negative) and we need to be sensitive about it. The Middle East is at a slight disadvantage because they witness Theocracy and thus they judge Christianity by the West. An action by the American government is an action of Christendom. This is not true and it is a barrier that needs to be cared for.
Islam is a Theocracy. The West is not Christianity.
Peace could depend upon this understanding.