I'd like to beg the indulgence of the reader for a few moments. I'd like to request that you, gentle reader, imagine a fine little parish church, Catholic or Orthodox, with a vibrant and devout community of parishoners who have sacrificed appreciably for that church as an expression of their fidelity to Christ, one another, and their Faith. Imagine, further, that because of their sacrificial devotion, their church and parish hall are not merely exemplary as ecclesiastical facilities, but immaculately maintained - and situated in a geographically desirable location.
To continue with this little indulgence, imagine that this parish community, for whatever reason, somehow slackens in its devotion, not necessarily religiously, but materially, finding the upkeep of their buildings and grounds onerous where once this burden was shouldered joyfully. So, in order to obtain the funds with which to hire others to perform what they once did for themselves, they decide to make available their parish hall to any other Christian group that might desire to use it for worship. They will rent out the hall. And suppose that the group that approaches them is a Pentecostal congregation.
At this stage, permit me to interject that in this imaginative indulgence there are only descriptive terms. The salient fact is that of difference.
This Pentecostal congregation being sizable, sizable enough to fill out the parish hall, and more than sizable enough to pay a tidy sum in rent, the parishoners decide, with some grumblings of dissent, to permit them the use of the hall. And things proceed tolerably smoothly for a time. Though there occurs some overlap in the timing of the services, and though there are occasional awkward moments - such as when a procession of the parish is regarded with disdain by the Pentecostals as just so much man-created flummery, or when the tongues-speaking during the Pentecostal service becomes too passionate - things are not so bad that the circle of dissenters expands in number.
The odd sort of reciprocity continues, and the faction of the parish which conceived and supported it remain pleased, both with the results and with themselves. But the circle of dissenters has widened. The handsome rent payments seem not to cover the additional costs of maintaining the grounds and facilities under the burden of several times the original membership - or perhaps, given that the financial officers on the parish council are supportive of the relationship, no one really knows what is happening to these funds. Perhaps they are not being used for the parish at all. And, to make matters still worse, the Pentecostals have become more adversarial, there sermons regularly decrying the alleged evils of the liturgical congregation from whom they rent their "own" facilities. Their members regularly accost the parishoners to berate them and attempt to persuade them that their faith is corrupted, a declension from the purity of Apostolic Christianity. Some even begin to evidence a spirit of entitlement, as though they are owed some sort of a deference, that it is somehow 'unjust' for 'heretics' to possess such beautiful facilities, or at least to charge for the use of them.
And so a spirit of rancour grows. Unpleasant incidents multiply. And the priests of the parish finally opt to consult with their bishop as to how best the situation might be rectified, the disputants mollified. To their dismay, however, the bishop advises them to do nothing, declaiming that it is a solemn duty of the Christian faith to offer succour and hospitality to the less fortunate, and that sacrificially. The burdens and unpleasantnesses of the relationship with the Pentecostals must be born, for it would be a grave evil to turn away brothers in Christ.
Meanwhile, a new parish council election has been held, and the dissenters have carried the day, replacing the majority of the supporters; they are determined to remonstrate more fully with the bishop, to prevail upon him to bless the termination of a bond which has become unsustainable. And yet, their bishop refuses, enjoining them against any such action and decreeing that only a member of the episcopate could possess the authority to permit a parish to dissolve such a relationship. Whereupon, in a spirit of great vexation and perplexity, they decide that, for the sanctity of their own religious community, and in spite of the injunction of the bishop, they must unilaterally sever the relationship; they evict the Pentecostals, and entrust the consequences to the Almighty.
And then the bishop chastises them for their alleged 'uncharity', even to the point of demanding that some indemnity be paid to the Pentecostals.
I should note, then, that while no analogy or allegory is exact in all of its details, it seems evident to me that the parish would be wholly justified in its actions, just as a local community would be wholly within its rights under the natural law to enforce the law against illegal immigrants, regardless of the status of the positive law and the disposition of those declining to enforce it. Law exists for the security and common good of the community, and any authority which, by declining to enforce it, injures the good of the community, does not deserve such deference. If the superior authority, by its dereliction of its duty, whether born of indifference or malignity, pursues a course which entails the destruction of a community, there exists a law higher than the positive law, without which the positive law is nothing but an empty cistern.
Perhaps, I am saying, we will have to wrest our federalism and our communities back from those who have usurped them. The all-or-nothing stakes imposed upon struggling communities do not even rise to the level of sheer perversity. As Rod Dreher notes:
The message from the federal government, therefore, is, "We won't protect you from this invasion of lawbreakers, but you don't have the right to protect yourselves either."
Furthermore, as Dreher observes in another post:
This is not going to end pretty, I fear. You cannot tell people that they have to be prepared to abandon their homes because the government is unwilling or unable to enforce the law against illegal immigration, and expect them to sit back and take it forever.
No, people cannot be obliged to endure this at all, let alone indefinitely, and the eventual consequences could be less than pleasant. Which, I am saying, is why a little - yes - defiance now will likely avert greater harms in the future. The law is not above the good of the community.