I consider myself fortunate to have several American friends who live in foreign countries. Three of them live in areas that are predominantly Muslim. Recently, my friends have enlightened me to a very real problem. They tell me that in their respective countries, Americans have a poor reputation. That reputation is largely, if not entirely, due to the influence of American television and, more importantly, the images of American women and American religion. In Islam, women are considered to be the more spiritual and holy in the family. That is why their dress must be beyond modest. (I am not ignoring the obvious reality of female subjugation in many of these countries. Nevertheless, the ideal of womanhood is honored even if the systems themselves are repressive and even abusive.) The problem is the perception of American women. Far from seeing us as liberators, they fear us as corruptors. The images of women dressing and behaving immodestly leads many Muslims to believe that all American women are like this.
The second media-induced image that my friends are concerned about are a few high profile Christian denominations that have embraced homosexuality. Once again, the impression left is one of generalization and the belief that all Christians embrace this lifestyle and approve of same sex marriage. The truth is that most Americans reject the wholesale redefinition of marriage.
If American Christians hope to impact the world with the gospel of Jesus Christ, we had better realize that our culture here impacts the work of missions there. We need to be concerned about the endless stream of profanity, nudity and lude behavior that represents us around the world. We need to realize how it plays into the hands of radical Islamafacists who use our corruption as an excuse to kill our people. We also need to wake up to the reality that standing firm on the redefinition of biblical marriage is impacting more than our culture; it is impacting the gospel around the world. Never has a spiritual awakening mattered so much. Our War on Terror could be won by God's people getting serious about sharing God's truth across the street and around the world.