The following were some thoughts on original sin, shared with a parishioner who had wondered about why God would punish the sin of Adam and Eve in their descendants.
I think the problem with this is in the "he decides that he is going to allow sin to be passed from parents to children, thus condemning everyone to hell since that is what he decided the punishment would be."
When Adam and Eve fell it is true that they brought down the race with them, but that is not because God arbitrarily decided to punish their descendents for their sin; it is because God created humanity as a whole. He created us intimately tied to our parents so that we receive not just nurture from them, but our very selves. Genes, if you will. Humanity was designed to flower, but not designed to die. But the way we flower, one from the other, made it inevitable that death at the head of the race would bring death through the whole race. That is a consequence of God's original design of our interwoven lives.
I think it parallels imagination. Human imagination was created to be a wonderful thing! But look at how we have abused it and misused it. Does that mean imagination is awful, because it can be so corrupted? In just the same way, the inter-relatedness of the human race is a good thing, a wonderful thing, that has had a very sad consequence because of our fall into sin.
Yet even now it can be beautiful. John Donne's great line: "Therefore send not to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee." We're all of a piece. AND JESUS WAS BORN INTO THAT PIECE! And that's our great hope! He is the New Adam because by being connected to Him - in Baptism, in Eucharist- we are reborn and set free from the sinful consequences that befell us due to our inter-relatedness to each other and to Adam.
But even better, we are given a new inter-relatedness in Christ, that joins us to each other and to Christ. Matthew 25 shows how inter-related Christ is to all humanity when it speaks of the good that we do or fail to do for each other as being done to him. That's a powerful connection to each other!
Yes, no matter how much we may dislike it, original sin remains a very sorry fact. And yes, to our old Adamic self, it grates that God should hold us personally responsible for a sin that we never committed. Or did we? How united are we to each other anyway?
I think that when we confess that original sin truly damns, we are confessing something about the state in which we are born. We are born in a state that is separated from God. To ask whether he should condemn us for this is really silly! The condemnation IS the state. It's not like we're innocent and being charged with another's crime. That was Jesus' role, not ours. Rather, the very crime from which we need deliverance is our selves.
This being "curved in on one's self" that is the result of our fall.
I'm not going to try to argue with God about how come it couldn't have been done another way. I'm quite sure my mind isn't up to that! But this I can do: I can stand before the Crucified One and see how terrifying my sin truly is - that the only answer God saw fit to give it was to damn it to hell and yet not to damn me with it; to damn His beloved instead. I don't get love like that. I don't get why he would do it for the likes of me. But that's the God he's shown himself to be. The one who takes the crime of our sin so seriously that his Son "takes the hit" for us, to set us free from the consequences of our sin (the condemnation and hell) and to begin the restoration in us - making "upright" people out of "bent" people. And I don't think we'll ever be able to fully understand what he's done, but this I know, that until he's finished the "unbending" process I don't have a hope of understanding! I think we have to wait for that.