Evangelist’s efforts key in ban of same-sex marriage in Australia
Rebecca Grace
Rebecca Grace
AFA Journal staff writer

April 2005 – As the battle over a constitutional marriage protection amendment rages throughout the United States, Australia’s recent passage of a bill protecting traditional marriage is an exemplary step in the right direction for the Western world. 

Although the initial attempt to ban homosexual marriage in Australia seemed hopeless, the new law was passed August 13, 2004, by the Australian Senate with a 38-7 vote, as reported by Baptist Press. 

The turn of events, viewed by Christians as an act of God, came about largely due to the grassroots efforts of Australian native Warwick Marsh, a worshipping evangelist and co-founder of the Fatherhood Foundation and Australian Heart Ministries. 

“The battle was raging in the middle of the year [2004] in May and June,” Marsh told the AFA Journal. “It looked like … ‘gay’ marriage was a sure thing.”

Marsh, a man who is passionate about marriage, and his wife of 30 years, Alison, were disturbed by the thrust of homosexuality that was sweeping Australia, and they decided it was time to take action. 

Having developed numerous friendships on both sides of Parliament through his pro-family activist efforts, Marsh was concerned that his stand against “gay” marriage would end some of these influential relationships. But that did not stop him. 

“I’ve got to do something even if I lose my friends in Parliament, even if my name becomes mud,” Marsh said. “I don’t care. Marriage – you’ve got to fight for it. It’s taken so many blows over the years….”

The plan of attack
Determined to fight for traditional marriage, Marsh approached a senator he knew was against the homosexual lobbying that was taking place and suggested they organize a traditional marriage forum. The senator consented and the National Marriage Forum was set for August 4, 2004. Marsh rallied other pro-family leaders such as Bill Muehlenberg of the Australian Family Association and Jim Wallace of the Australian Christian Coalition for support. 

The men requested a small room in Parliament House in hopes of drawing a couple of hundred people to the mid-week forum. Instead, the Great Hall, a room designed to hold 1,000 people, was booked for the event. Intimidated by the size of the room, Marsh and his allies decided to fill the room with tables in hopes that it would look somewhat full the day of the forum. 

“[However], when the day arrived … we were turning people away,” Marsh said.

More than 1,000 people gathered for the forum that was emceed by Marsh and composed of speeches by Prime Minister John Howard and Deputy Prime Minister John Anderson, as well as a representative from the opposition. Church leaders, professors, and legal authorities also attended. 

During his speech to the forum, Howard pointed out how the bill “expresses the fundamental Judeo-Christian view.” However, not all the supporters of the bill consider themselves religious, but they hold strongly to this bedrock value – that being the core institution of marriage – as explained in a Baptist Press article. 

God’s outcome
“The whole thing went off really well,” Marsh said. “It shocked the opposition,  the Labor Party, and [it] completely did an about-s face…. They supported the government, and said ‘We want to stop gay marriage.’ ”

Although he was hoping for a positive outcome, Marsh was shocked by the response from the opposition and never expected such an immediate change to take place. 

“Within eight days of that fourth of August, a legal bill was passed in the Senate which said that marriage is between a man and a woman for life, excluding others,” Marsh explained with excitement. “Really, all I can say is that it was an act of God.” 

And God’s hand was obviously in the battle from the beginning. 

“As it happened, I had booked a men’s prayer summit six months before on the 12th and 13th of August,” Marsh explained. “And the bill passed while we were there to pray for it.

“So all glory has to go to God because God is God!” he added. 

In addition, Marsh pinpointed unity as a key factor in the success of the constitutional marriage amendment. 

“We didn’t care who got the credit,” he said. “We worked together.” 

Working together the team of believers was able to make a statement about the importance of marriage.

“We’re not against people,” Marsh explained. “It’s not that I hate homosexuals. [In fact] I’ve had a church in a pub before and transvestites came. I’ve had people with AIDS live with my family.

“We’re not against flesh and blood but against those spiritual forces that want to rip the guts out of our nation,” he added. 

“…All other things being equal, it is far better that children be raised in a married home with the benefit of both their mother and their father,” Howard explained as reported by Baptist Press. 

Marriage and fatherhood
Marsh could not agree more, especially coming from a broken home where he spent much of his early childhood separated from his father. He was taken back and forth between Australia and Scotland due to parental war at home. 

Scarred by the pain of his childhood and thoughts of suicide as a young teenager, Marsh understands what children are going through today since, as of 2002, “85% of single parent families [in Australia] are fatherless families,” according to Muehlenberg. 

His claim is further supported by a recent study conducted by the British Council in which over 40,000 overseas voters and English language learners responded to a survey that asked them to rank a list of 70 words based on each word’s connotation of beauty.

The word “mother” ranked as the number one most beautiful word in the English language, with “father” not even making the preset list of 70 words.

“That says something about fathers and about the lack thereof,” Marsh said. “There is a deep father wound in our…Western societies that is really tearing the heart out of people.” 

Therefore, three years ago Marsh and his wife began an organization known as the Fatherhood Foundation after being moved to action by the words of an aboriginal man named Ron Williams. 

Williams said, “What Australia needs more than anything else is fathers – both natural and spiritual.” 

Thus was the beginning of this charitable, non-profit incorporated association that is designed “to inspire men to a greater level of excellence as fathers, by encouraging and educating them, thereby renewing and empowering families.” 

“What’s fatherhood got to do with marriage?” Marsh asked. “It’s got a lot to do with marriage because unless you get a father and a mother together, you don’t have children.” 

Marsh attributes much of this father absenteeism to Roe v. Wade. He says part of the rescue plan for children is to bring back fathers – not only after babies are born, but also while the child is still in the womb.

“The greatest thing a father can do for his children is love the children’s mother,” Marsh added. 

“Australia now has in its legislation that marriage is between a man and a woman for life, excluding lovers,” Marsh said. “And, that, my friends, is an amazing victory.”  undefined

Marsh family ministries on the Internet

•  www.fatherhood.org.au
•  www.ausheart.com.au 

Family brings Gospel in music, ministry
Fifteen years ago, Warwick and Alison Marsh began traveling with their children throughout Australia sharing the Good News in song and message.

Through the years, the family grew to a total of five children – all of whom are musically inclined and make up a family band. The band presents a wide genre of music from well-known praise and worship songs to original hip-hop and jazz-oriented pieces. 

Their performance venues, often powered by a mere generator, are now even broader than their musical stylings as they spend their summer vacations each year ministering in various places such as Australia, Malaysia, Singapore, India, Kenya, Uganda, Germany, and the United States.

“Every trip we do is just a blessing,” Alison said.

“It’s an adventure every time we go out,” said bass guitarist Jonathan, 22. “We see that God has His purpose and too many miraculous things happen for it just to be chance.”

Seeing God restore hope to poverty-stricken countries impacts the entire family.

“It’s hard but it touches your life and helps you know how much you have,” said Melodie, 12, vocals for the band.

Although a lot of personal soul searching results from the family’s endeavors, their primary aim is to make “a difference in people’s lives for Christ because that’s what matters,” Jonathan said.   

Israel, 17, guitarist, desires for people to walk away from their concerts having a closer relationship with God. 

“Maybe God has imparted something on their lives or in their spirits…that will help them…follow God and have faith in Him,” Israel said.

In addition, “We’ve been able to encourage families…to keep trying to be a family….,” added Levi, 20, who plays the saxophone and didgeridoo, and sings.   

Out of the family’s love for music, Warwick and his wife established Australian Heart Ministries, an evangelistic organization that utilizes creative arts to share the message of Jesus Christ. 

The ministry is multi-faceted and includes a record label, music publishing company, and TV production house. As a singer, songwriter, and producer, Warwick has a heart for aspiring musicians such as Tay Plain, who joined the Marshes on their recent world tour. 

“I believe in discipleship and training up the next generation,” Warwick said.

 “My dream is to use music to reach young people with the Gospel of Jesus,” Tay explained. “He [Jesus] turned my life around and gave me something to live for.” 

And it is that message of salvation that the Marshes seek to share with others through their traveling band and faith-based initiatives.