In fiction, many writers treat their characters’ spiritual lives as an unmentionable. Whatever they’re doing in there, we just won’t talk about it. Like going to the bathroom… we know it’s happening, but we don’t want to hear it described!
Even worse than failure to mention is the assumption that the characters simply have no spirituality or faith of any kind. In Science Fiction, many authors treat religion as something that cave men invented and the enlightened masses of the future have outgrown. In the Romance genre, (with the notable exception of inspirational romance) some authors seem to be working under the assumption that if their characters are having sexual thoughts and feelings before they’re in a committed relationship, they must not be religious.
Currently there is a trend (not just in fiction, but in life) for people to shun organized religion, but embrace spirituality. I think spirituality is a wonderful thing, and is an important aspect of every human life. But I don’t shun organized religion, and I don’t see humanity ever “outgrowing” it, as if it was a childish fancy. A people united can do great works, from helping the poor and feeding the hungry to providing the fellowship and encouragement every individual’s needs. I appreciate the fact that every Sunday morning I can be in church listening to a sermon with other adults while all the children are learning and exploring their own faith with their peers.
It is true that, in our society today, sexuality is a “special topic” within the church setting, if it is ever brought up at all. Many churches encourage abstinence till marriage, although there is a slow shift towards acknowledging that pre-marital sex is not a sin. I like to think that, in the future, a human’s sexuality can be discussed within any setting, without it being a taboo subject.
On Kingdom Come, (where most of my current stories are set) there are churches as well as what I call “Spiritual Centers” which are more like convenience stores where a person can get a brief “spiritual fix”. It’s not so much that I like the idea of convenience store religion, but I do think it’s a reasonable extrapolation.
Without really giving too much away (OK, “Spoiler Alert” after the next gratuitous image, just in case you really do want to be able to read my novels without ANYTHING being given away beforehand, you should stop reading now…)
In one story, the characters receive gentle teasing from their church community because their group marriage is formed via several weddings over the course of several years. In another story, one of the main characters is priest who has just as “normal” and healthy a sex life as the other main characters. In most of my stories, I at some point mention that the characters went to some version of church or temple or other religious or spiritual organization. It’s not a main theme in the story, but neither is it the kind of detail that is simply swept under the rug as if it had no place in their lives.