Of the 111+ million households in America, less than 50% are now comprised of married couples (with or without children). So says new analysis done by the New York Times of data compiled by the U.S. Census Bureau.

There are multiple reasons for this growing cultural transformation — young adults marrying at later and later ages, and an increasing life expectancy that has resulted in more and more elderly people living as widows and widowers. Of course two other factors remain: a significant divorce rate that results in many becoming single again, and the large number of couples who cohabitate without marriage.

The Times assures “The numbers by no means suggests marriage is dead or necessarily that a tipping point has been reached. The total number of married couples is higher than ever, and most Americans eventually marry.” Yet the Times also acknowledges that these changing numbers are significant: “…the potential social and economic implications are profound.”

In times past, the church has responded to news like this with the message of the sanctity of marriage, and that surely would have a measure of usefulness today. Yet we also need to hear the message that marriage is not only good, but needed. It is wise to consider singleness, so one might serve God with greater devotion (1 Cor. 7:32-35). But we also need to remind our singles that the intention of God at creation was that man and woman would live together in a married state. Marriage is a good gift and, in a sense, an urgent privilege (1 Cor. 7:1ff). For those who are unmarried and of marital age and yet remaining unmarried for unbiblical reasons, it is time to ask, “Why?”