And ye shall not walk in the manners of the nation, which I cast out before you: for they committed all these things, and therefore I abhorred them, Leviticus 20:23.
A New Testament application of the above verse would be, And be not conformed to this world, Romans 12:2. We tend to think of manners in the sense of politeness. We teach our children to say "please" and "thank you" and we teach them to behave with respect for others in society. The King James Bible concept of manners is something more.
It may well be that the nations that inhabited Canaan before Israel were perfectly mannerly to one another as they passed their children through the fire. With polite deference to one another they may have stood in line to cast their babies into the furnace of Moloch. There may have been an abundance of polite social gestures as fathers lay with daughters. Certainly, the testimony of those who knew the Nazi hierarchy is that they were polite and mannerly in public.
The new versions have pretty well junked the word "manner". That is a pity. They tend to replace it with the word "custom"your bible also uses the word "custom" and in looking at it, we can see why it is not a good substitute for "manner". And when he was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem after the custom of the feast, Luke 2:42. So Jesus went up to the feast according to the custom, but by what manner did he go up?
Did he go in a rowdy pack of his friends? Did he take a taxi? That verse alone doesn't tell us. It tells us that he kept a custom, but it does not tell us the manner in which he kept it. It may well have been the custom of the Canaanites to let their children frolic in the first snowfall of the year. Does that mean that Israel could not let their children frolic in the snow since it had been a Canaanite custom?
No, it is the manner in which the Canaanites kept the customs that defiled them, not the customs themselves. They may have done it with debauched drunkenness or in association with orgies. I am not saying by this that we need to accept every custom of every people. We have a bible by which we can judge all things. I am saying that whether or not a thing is evil can lie in the manner in which it is conducted more so than the custom itself.
It is the custom in my household that women do not wear pants. There are a few other households in my church that keep that custom. Yet, I have women in my church who do not keep that custom, but whose mannerisms in daily conduct far exceed those who do. I have been nauseated by the mannerism of some women who have conducted themselves with a proud haughtiness in their manner of dress. (Not in my church, and I thank God for that.) Manners of behavior and custom are not the same and the new bibles make shipwreck of that.
Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners, 1st Corinthians 15:33. A Christian who never neglects the custom of taking the Lord's table, never forgets the custom of praying for his meals in public or any one of a number of other good customs, can defile his walk with God by the manner in which he does them. He can so surround himself with evil communications that it changes how he conducts himself in the same routines that he did prior to being associated with evil communications.
Once again, our bible has proved itself to be the word of God and it is sharper than any twoedged sword. Its words are divine words chosen of God.