There have been times when I hear people almost bragging about their escapades. It is as though they have no sense of awareness of just how they sound when they recount the stuff they have engaged in. In fact, some even appear to have a sense of pride with acknowledging their folly! Now, I am not one to "parade" my folly in public. I have a hard enough time admitting to my failure in private without having to flaunt it for the world to see!
Fools make fun of guilt, but the godly acknowledge it and seek reconciliation. (Proverbs 14:9 NLT)
I think our passage has much to say about how it is we do with our "guilt" when our escapades have been less than honorable. The fool makes fun of the guilt they feel. Try as we might, we cannot rid ourselves of the sense of guilt with simply laughing it away or making light of it. If we dismiss our guilt long enough, we become almost "immune" to the sense of guilt we feel about a certain behavior. We begin to justify it and form an "opinion" of it being okay - if not for others, at least for ourselves. In some circles, this is similar to something referred to as "situation ethics".
In the simplest sense, situation ethics holds the belief that the end justifies the means. In fact, with this type of interpretation of life, we find it easy to set aside rules and regulations whenever we feel the "greater good" will be served by our actions. To truly understand situation ethics, we must understand the concepts taught by Joseph Fletcher when he reported this as the "fulfillment" of Christ's instructions to love unconditionally. He believed their were no absolute laws other than the law of agape love - unconditional love. To this end, the consequences (or outcomes) of any action did not really matter because it was end justified the means. Now, if you cannot see the danger in this belief system, it is time to really go back to scripture to see what Christ taught.
Jesus always began with "love God" and then he taught to love "your neighbor" as yourself. You cannot ever "love God" if you throw out the absolutes he proclaims - things like don't cheat, don't covet, don't have any other god before me, etc. These are absolutes in God's kingdom. So, Jesus was teaching we need to embrace the absolutes of God's kingdom and this will result in us being able to love our neighbor. The end, in this case, is justified by the means - the means being the keeping of God's command to love him whole-heartedly (with all we've got).
Now, back to our passage. Fools make fun of guilt - but the godly acknowledge it. It is one thing to acknowledge something - it is another to do something with the knowledge we have! The godly doesn't stop with an admission of guilt - they go on to the place of obeying one of God's absolutes - confession! Scripture teaches us to bring our sins to Christ and there we will find forgiveness. It is not an exercise of excusing our sin - it is an erasure of the stain of the sin and the ability to walk away from the pull to do the sin again.
So, what we do with our guilt determines the end of our guilt. We can flaunt it openly, proclaiming the end justified the means. Or...if we are wise....we can confess it, seeking forgiveness and restoration at the foot of the cross. The first method of dealing with our guilt will only "numb" us to the experience of guilt - it never removes it. The latter not only removes it, it gives us the ability to walk away from the very action which produced the guilt in the first place. The fool chooses to continue the pursuit of the action which produces the guilt - the wise choose to turn away from it, seeing no justification in their sin.
It is truly a dangerous thing to "pick up" a false set of beliefs - those which veer from the truth clearly outlined in scripture. We can "interpret" scripture and reflect upon it with all kinds of "opinion". The danger is us forming a set of beliefs which "fit our actions" instead of us allowing God to "fit our actions" to his Word! Lest I meddle further...I will leave you with these thoughts to ponder.