"For Herod feared John, knowing that he was a just and holy man, and he protected him. And when he heard him, he did many things, and heard him gladly." Fact is, Herod honored and respected John and held no grudge against him--despite the Baptist's objection to his unlawful marriage, which he was in nowise willing to annul. It was rather his evil wife Herodias who hated the Baptist with a passion and so desired his death. And so it came to pass that when the woman's abused and dysfunctional daughter demanded John's head as the reward for her lascivious dancing (in a futile ploy to please her mother) Herod "was exceedingly sorry."
Yes indeed, he was truly sorry and knew the murder of John was wrong--yet he lacked the moral integrity to forswear the evil oath he had made to his hapless daughter. Ultimately, though, it cannot be said that it was Herodias' daughter who was to blame for this unfortunate turn of events--she was merely a tool manipulated by her conniving mother to accomplish the diabolical goal she sought.
But even the vengeful and cold-hearted Herodias is not directly responsible for the tragic decapitation of the Baptist, for it was Herod himself who gave the order for the execution--and he can nowise be justified by shifting the blame for this heinous crime. Because, you see, his eyes were fully open and he knew exactly what he was doing--and he knew full well that it was wrong. For though his lustful passions no doubt clouded his judgment in that moment, he was in no way constrained to commit this evil act.
The same can be said of you and I: how often are we guilty of committing deliberate acts of sin, knowing full well that what we do is wrong and contrary to the will of God? And then instead of sincerely repenting with bitter tears, we search diligently for ways to at least partially exonerate ourselves from responsibility for our actions. We are, after all, only human. We were led astray by others, and our parents never did set a good example. The excuses we can draw upon are legion... but when we stand at last before the dread judgment seat of Christ, none of our alleged excuses or justifications will be worth a tinker's damn. We truly do know the difference between right and wrong--and unless we repent now, we are doomed to suffer eternally in a hell of our own making.