Okay, you may want to sit down for this but I am going to make any argument for why all effective moral teaching must be authoritative. And, furthermore, for why this is so even if:
- You are wrong, or
- You don't live up to the standards you teach.
The first argument is quite simple, if you don't hold, really hold, solid moral views, no one will take you seriously. Someone who just says, here are a bunch of different moral views and here are some of the arguments pro and con without actually backing one or another is implicitly saying that this stuff doesn't matter. Morality isn't like picking your favourite colour, it really matters. If it doesn't show that it matters—and it won't if you don't take a stand and live it—no one will take you seriously and they will be right.
The second argument is that teaching is a way of living. It comes with moral standards embodied in it. Even if you claim not to take a stance your behaviour will imply standards about how people are to interact and argue and these are important points. And, whether they admit it or not, people who teach morality do unhesitatingly assume and impose these sorts of standards. And they are not minimal but they are innevitable.
And that is the quandary. You have to imply standards in your teaching behaviour even though you will inevitably fail to live up to them. Sometimes you will even fail in big ways. But, and this is crucial, trying to dodge it by saying you just want to let other people make up their mind won't do.
And I am going on vacation, as a later post will discuss. If anyone thinks I am wrong and wants to set me straight, please feel to have at it in the comments. I probably won't be responding for at least a week though.