Not an easy question to answer as there is much in the Bible, especially the OT, which I find difficult to understand and to reconcile with the "christian" God. I have a lot of sympathy for Marcion and others who believed the christian God was a different god to that of the OT, which was one way of reconciling the dramatic differences between the two (but not my way).
I can only speak for myself as my beliefs are my own and are not orthodox amongst Jehovah's Witnesses. A geologist friend of mine caused me to reconsider the account of the Flood and I concluded it could not be true in an earth-wide sense. I eventually concluded it was allegorical, and my interest in palaeontology led me to conclude that the Genesis account was also. In the remainder of the OT I am left with the quandary as to whether I am understanding something as allegory because it is convenient or because that is how it was intended to be understood. So with that background I would answer your question by saying that some commands in the OT are repulsive on face value but I tend to look at the story behind it ... what is the author explaining or trying to convey ... did this actually happen or is it an allegory. I also try and consider the audience, the sitzimleben, to understand what the purpose of "shock" value is even if the account is allegorical.
I agree that most readers of the bible, christian or not, filter what they read through a set of ethical beliefs.
My apologies to chrisuk for straying from the subject matter of the thread, but I like Simon (and cofty) and think their questions deserve an answer.