By Nabil Habibi
Lebanese Christians—like believers worldwide—often approach elections torn between hope and despair. But with a major vote looming, do they have a biblical mandate to participate?
Lebanon is a mess. A stalled revolution. The Beirut explosion. Economic collapse.
But now we have a chance to vote. On May 15, for the first time in four years, citizens can react officially to the disastrous failure of our ruling parties. Even if in limited fashion, ballot boxes can change the course of a country.
No matter your nation, elections offer hope.
But also uncertainty. In Lebanon, will we renew the mandate of leaders who have led us into this malaise? Will one side of the political spectrum ascend against the other? Will opposition movements and individuals manage to win seats?
These elections are of massive importance.
But what will happen afterwards, when the excitement of democratic involvement wears off? Lebanon teeters regularly between expectation of upheaval and disillusionment with the corrupt system. Some view this weekend’s vote as our best chance to hold leaders accountable. Others, in apathy or despair, doubt anything will change.
Amid these questions, evangelicals are debating their faithful response.
Last week, I was the guest of a weekly morning Christian radio show. Given our political season, the host asked me about the believer’s duty to participate in the elections. Sharing a zeal for political change, she offered a softball question inviting me to give a moving speech encouraging Christian listeners to make a difference.
I chose my words carefully.
I will vote, I replied, and I have a clear preference. The secular movements opposed to our sectarian system offer the best hope for justice and change. But—and it is a big “but”—I told her there is no biblical or theological obligation for Christians to take part in elections.
She pushed back, surprised by my answer. Knowing …